Project Gutenberg's The Broken Font, Vol. 2 (of 2), by Moyle Sherer

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Title: The Broken Font, Vol. 2 (of 2)
       A Story of the Civil War

Author: Moyle Sherer

Release Date: July 20, 2013 [EBook #43262]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


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And now, good morrow to our waking soules,
Which watch not one another out of feare.

The noble spirit of Katharine Heywood was severely exercised by those disclosures of Jane Lambert which have been related in a former chapter.

She regretted, too late, that she had ever asked that true-hearted girl to perform an office so difficult in itself, and which had proved, in its consequences, so hazardous to her reputation and her peace. The chance of such a misfortune as that which had befallen Jane never remotely presented itself to her mind at the moment when she made the request, yet she[Pg 1]
[Pg 2]
could not but feel compunction as she reflected on the trouble to which the generous constancy of a delicate mind had subjected her affectionate friend. One slight reparation was in her power. It became her plain duty to undeceive the mind of Juxon on the subject; and the thought that she should be thus instrumental in bringing together two fine characters, formed for each other, made all selfish considerations about her own sorrow, and every pang which her maidenly pride must suffer, vanish before that proper resolution.

No opportunity of speaking in private with Juxon occurred on the evening of Jane’s disclosure to Katharine, nor did any offer itself until the arrival of her young cousin Arthur from Oxford. It was a mournful trial to Katharine to observe the high and joyous spirits of the ardent youth, as he embraced and thanked Sir Oliver for acceding to his request. The silent house became suddenly full of cheerful echoes as the brave boy passed to and fro on its oaken staircase and along the pleasant gallery, singing snatches of loyal songs, or making his[Pg 3] spurs jingle as he ran. All his preparations for the solemn work of war were made with a light heart, and with little or no consideration that fellow-countrymen were to be his enemies. Such little sympathy as the boy once felt for the tortured Prynne existed no longer for any one of that party, which he had learned to look upon as traitors.

One would have thought that he was volunteering in a foreign expedition, by his gay-hearted alacrity in getting ready.

“Cousin Kate,” said he, turning towards her as they sat at breakfast in the hall, “you must make us a couple of King’s rosettes,—and I hope you have both of you,” he added, looking at Jane Lambert, “nearly finished embroidering the small standard for our troop:—you have laughed at me, and called me boy, Jane; but when I bring you back your own embroidery, stained with the blood of traitors, you shall reward me as a man.”

“I am not so very blood-thirsty, Arthur,” said Jane Lambert, “as to wish it shed to do honour to my embroidery; and if I see you[Pg 4] come safe back with your sword bright and a peace branch in your hand, I will tell a fib for you, and call you a man before your beard comes. Now don’t frown—it does not become your smooth face:—when all is over, you shall play the part of a lady in the first court masque, and shall wear my rose-coloured gown.”

“Why, Jane,” said Sir Oliver, “what is come to you, girl? It was but five minutes ago that I saw you with your kerchief at your eyes, looking as sad as though you were sitting at a funeral; and now thou mockest poor Arthur, as if he were a vain boaster, instead of a gallant boy, as thou well knowest.—Never mind her, Arthur: she is a true woman, and teazes those most whom she loves the best. She will cry peccavi to thee a few weeks hence, and suffer thee to give her a full pardon in honest kisses.”

“Marry, Sir Oliver,” said Jane, smiling, “you will spoil the boy, an you talk thus to him.”

“She shall not wait so long for my pardon,” said the good-tempered Arthur, with quickness; and rising from his seat, he went to Jane, and,[Pg 5] with the permitted familiarity of boyhood and cousinship, he gave her a kiss. “There,” he added: “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. ‘To-morrow’ is a word I never liked, and it is a season which I may never find. Now, remember, if I should have the ill luck to be cut down by the sword of a traitor, I die in peace with you, dear coz, and forgive you for your merriment beforehand.”

“She will not be merrier, Arthur, than she is now,” said Katharine; “and to say truth, the very thought is enough to make us sad, if we were not melancholy already:—but I must not hear, my dear father, of your going to the field. It will be at the cost of your life, and that, too, without your having the satisfaction to be of use.”

“An example, Kate, must always be of service, if it be a good one; and though I never stood opposite a shotted cannon hitherto, methinks, to do that once by the side of my King would make the short remnant of my life all the brighter for it. Besides, my dear girl, for all the talk which these Parliament men make[Pg 6] about their levies, let the country gentlemen of the western counties arm in right earnest, and the loyal cavaliers of England will make these praying rogues bend the knee and cry out for quarter.”

“To be sure they will,” said the excited Arthur: “I will bring cousin Jane a live specimen of the genuine round-headed rebel, with his hands tied behind him, and the whites of his eyes where the pupils should be.”

At this moment Juxon entered the hall from Old Beech:—he caught the last sentence; and putting one hand on Arthur’s shoulder, as he gave the other to Sir Oliver.—“Remember, my young master,” he said, “that thy game must be caught before it can be cooked, at least so says the cookery book in my old housekeeper’s room; and, believe me, you will find a day’s fighting with these Parliament boys rather harder work than a morning’s hare-hunting, and little game bagged at the close of it.”

“Why, George Juxon! this from you!” said Sir Oliver. “Why, you are the very last man that I expected to hear croak in this fashion.[Pg 7] Why, I expect to see the vagabonds turn tail, before a charge of well mounted cavaliers, like a flock of sheep.”

“You could not see such a runaway flight with greater pleasure than I should; but take my word for it, the King’s enemies are made of sterner stuff than you give them credit for. Many a great spirit is reckoned among their leaders; and of the meaner folk that follow them numbers have put their hearts into the cause, under a notion that it is that of the people. No, sir, Arthur will act in these troubles, I am well assured, with the same manliness of spirit with which he wrote to you from Oxford, and, therefore, I do not wish to hear him talk like a school boy.”

Arthur coloured with a little confusion at this grave rebuke; but, with the frank grace of a generous spirit, confessed himself to have spoken idly, and to be wrong; excusing it, at the same time, by saying, that he was only vapouring so to plague Jane Lambert a little, who, he verily believed, to be in love with one of the rebels. The eyes of Katharine fell, and[Pg 8] her gaze was fixed silently upon the ground, and a slight contraction of her brow showed to Jane how very keenly she was suffering. It was not possible, at the moment, to leave the table without an abruptness which must, of necessity, attract notice, or she would have done so; but Jane, with a ready cheerfulness, replied, “Perhaps I am: now, guess for me, most noble cavalier, whether my Puritan suitor be tall or short; young or old; how many hairs grow on his chin; whether his cheeks be red and white, like summer apples; how much buff it may take to make him a war coat; and if he do not wear high boot heels and jingling spurs for bravery?”

The fine temper of Arthur enabled him to take this playful raillery of Jane’s as pleasantly as it was meant; and Sir Oliver came to the boy’s aid, observing, “The sly maiden is laughing at us both, Arthur; and it is too true that I must have a broad seam let into my old buff coat.—See thou have it done quickly,” said he, “Philip,” turning to the old serving man behind his chair.

[Pg 9]

The announcement, however, which Sir Oliver had before made of his intentions, confirmed by the order thus gaily given, seemed to take away the old man’s breath; for to old Philip none of these sad changes were matters for laughter.

Juxon did not discourage these intentions of Sir Oliver for the present: he had satisfied his own mind that the family must, of necessity, soon quit the mansion at Milverton for a season. The spirit in Warwick and in Coventry was decidedly favourable to the cause of the Parliament; and although many of the gentlemen and yeomen in the country villages declared for his Majesty, yet whatever men could be raised under the commission of array would, of course, be marched away. However, it was agreed among the gentry, that the King should be invited to show himself in the county, and that some effort should be made to arouse the loyalty and enlist the feelings of the people in his quarrel. Should this fail, they all looked to Nottingham or Shrewsbury as favourable rallying points for the Royalists.

[Pg 10]

In the mean time secret preparations were made for concealing or removing valuable effects, and for transporting families and households, when the approach of the parliamentary forces should render it no longer safe for the more distinguished and wealthy of the Royalists to remain in their stately homes.

The conversation at the breakfast table at Milverton was changed from the jocular mood of the moment to a graver tone.

The news of the day,—the last movements of the King,—the rumours of his approach,—conjectures of his reception,—by turns engaged the attention of all, and were discussed between Juxon and Sir Oliver with earnestness and forethought.

The calm clear judgment of George Juxon made him look far on to consequences; and Sir Oliver, conscious of his own deficiency of information, and of the indolence of his inquiries, deferred more readily to the opinions of Juxon than obstinate men are found willing to do in general.

When the party rose and quitted the hall,[Pg 11] Katharine, under the pretence of asking Juxon’s advice about packing a valuable picture, led him to the gallery alone, while Arthur and Jane Lambert were settling their playful quarrel upon the terrace.

At the far end of the gallery was a windowed niche, with an antique seat of carved oak. Katharine sat down, and entreating the attention of Juxon to something of consequence, which it was her desire to impart to him, he placed himself on the bench by her side.

“You must be at a loss, Master Juxon, I fear, thoroughly to understand our dear friend, Jane Lambert.”

“It is true—she is a very strange girl.”

“Yes, strangely excellent: her idle words and idle ways do veil a character of rare and precious worth.”

“I would fain think so, lady; but I do sometimes fear that she is of a nature too open and too free for this hollow world. Already, to my thought, she is unhappy from this very cause: whatever may be her sorrow, I wish she would confide it to you.”

[Pg 12]

“I have discovered it.”

“Can it be possible? If so, I am truly happy to think that she will have a friend, whose maidenly reserve and heavenly wisdom may guide her through all dangers and difficulties in safety.”

“Ah! there’s the pang; ’twas I betrayed her to them.”

“You wrong yourself, lady,—I am convinced you do. I am afraid that I can make a better guess at what causes the melancholy of Jane Lambert than you can; however, I do not feel at liberty to speak more plainly.”

“I tell you it was I who placed her in the painful perplexity in which you once surprised her. The gentleman from whom you saw her part was an unhappy relative of mine: mine was the errand she was doing; mine was the secret that she kept with so noble a constancy:—that gentleman was nought to her.”

“Indeed! was he not her lover?”

“No: would he were! and yet the wish were selfish, and not kind, for she loves another.”

[Pg 13]

“I am utterly confused:—how much have my suspicions wronged her:—she is a generous girl;—how can I have been so deceived? And yet the gallant kissed her hand upon his knees.”

“I know it; but even in that action he only charged her with his homage to another: she was but love’s messenger.”

“Lady, I am troubled in my thoughts at this sad business: it is plain I wronged her; plain that she is constant as a star to friend or to lover. What she has done in friendship may well command my lasting admiration. You tell me that she loves. Why is her lover unknown and unavowed? What is his condition? Where is he? What barriers divide their fortunes and their hopes?”

“One only—he knows not of her love.”

“Whoever he may be, wherever he may dwell, in ignorance of such a vast possession as such a woman’s love—methinks, lady, it is your duty, your solemn and sweet duty, to make it known to him. I envy you the joy: let me be the bearer of your words or letter; so shall I some atonement make for my unworthy suspicions of her danger.”

[Pg 14]

“You forget—these are no times for lovers’ vows; these are no times for marrying and giving in marriage: such knowledge might depress the object of her love with care:—to see happiness offered to our heart’s want, and then, in the self-same instant, wrested from us by the iron hand of war, and scared away by the blast of discord, is to make acquaintance with a sorrow which, by ignorance, we might have escaped.”

“I think not with you, lady: it were pity for any man to die in his first field unconscious of such a blessing.”

“As I have a human heart, I can conceive of such a feeling, and like the noble thought.—Long may you live, Master Juxon, to prove how well Jane Lambert loves you!” So saying, Katharine rose and left the gallery.

Juxon remained fixed where he sat, in a state of mind which no language could faithfully depict. His heart swelled; his eyes became dim; and as the blinding tears fell fast away, the first object on which they rested was the figure of Jane Lambert, walking under the shade of[Pg 15] the lime-trees alone. He went down to join her in a tumult of rapture; but before he reached the end of the avenue the reflection crossed him, “What am I about to do? what am I about to utter? This is no moment, this is no mood, in which, for the first time, to address her as a lover. Katharine said true, ‘These are no times for lovers’ vows.’ ‘For better’ I would have her mine, but not ‘for worse.’ She shall know no misery that I can shield her from now, as a friend; and when peace smiles on my country once more, may God then join our hands, as even now our hearts!”

[Pg 16]


Thus would I teach the world a better way,
For the recovery of a wounded honour,
Than with a savage fury, not true courage,
Still to run headlong on.

There is no earthly consolation under sorrow of a more noble kind than that of witnessing and of promoting the happiness of those whom we know to deserve our affection. Katharine had not experienced for a long time a feeling of joy so true as that, with which, in the solitude of her chamber, she reflected upon what had just passed between herself and Juxon. She saw him go out, with hasty steps, towards the avenue where Jane was walking alone, and she rightly interpreted that check and change of his resolutions which made him turn suddenly away. But she determined that the work which[Pg 17] she had begun should not be left long incomplete, and that Jane Lambert should at once know of the revelation which she had made to Juxon that morning. She regretted having uttered a syllable during their interview which could operate to discourage Juxon from an immediate avowal of the impression which Jane’s conduct had made upon his heart. Most true it was that, in the present posture of public affairs, it could not be advisable for any one, and more especially for a clergyman, to enter into the state of matrimony, and it was a melancholy thing to form engagements which might never be fulfilled. Here, however, she could not but admit there was room for an exception to the common rules of prudence. Juxon and Jane Lambert were not ordinary characters. She knew that Juxon had of late taken a most serious view of the duties which were imposed on him as the rector of a parish, and that he had decided to guide and guard his flock with vigilance and courage as long as the spirit of persecution would suffer him to do so. While, therefore, many of the clergy were[Pg 18] for arming themselves, and for accompanying the King’s forces in the field, he resisted that natural inclination, and that easy escape into the security of a camp, by preparing to abide the visitations of the storm at his appointed post. The path of duty, however dangerous and exposed, is always that of peace; nevertheless, the age, the active habits, and the resolute spirit of Juxon made a vast and necessary difference between his course and that of the mild old parson of Cheddar. As Katharine revolved all these matters in her mind, she became reconciled to the thought of seeing her beloved Jane united at once to the man so well worthy of possessing her. The sole difficulty would be the reluctance of Juxon to expose a woman to those chances of distress and privation which alone he could cheerfully endure.

Katharine had long foreseen that the moment would arrive when Sir Oliver and herself must quit Milverton; and until the late disclosure of Jane, she had fully reckoned upon that dear girl as the companion of their wanderings and the friend of her bosom; but now it seemed a[Pg 19] duty to resign that comfort. However, there was one procedure by which it might be retained. If, when it became necessary for the royalist gentry to quit their homes, George Juxon would accompany the family to whatever city they might select as a temporary and secure residence, his marriage with Jane might soon take place, and there would be no interruption of her own sweet intercourse with her friend. Some thoughts like these had passed through the mind of Juxon as he paced up and down the terrace, full of that hope which is dashed with fear. While he was thus taking counsel of his own heart, Sir Charles Lambert arrived at Milverton, and, in company with Sir Oliver and Arthur, descended the steps and joined him. Sir Charles had for some time past appeared to so great advantage by the manner in which he had come forward in the royal cause, that he was considered, even by Juxon, a thoroughly changed man. There was a carefulness in his language, which greatly contrasted with his former coarseness. His manners were not only grave and composed, but there was an urbanity[Pg 20] in his address, which made a frank-hearted person like Juxon ashamed of not being able to like him. He thought him of a better capacity than he had once given him credit for, and was not willing to believe that, under all this outward improvement of his words and ways, his heart could remain unaffected. Moreover, there seemed no adequate reason for his assuming a false exterior, nor for any design which he might not openly avow. He attributed this amendment of character to secret compunction for his violence and brutality towards Cuthbert Noble; to that elevation of sentiment which a new position and great duties might and ought to produce; and to those considerations of death as an event possible and near, which the hazards of the approaching contest might naturally suggest to the least serious of men. “What think you, Master Juxon,” said Sir Oliver, “our cousin Charles hath just had a letter from Yorkshire from Sir Thomas Leigh, who saith that we may soon expect his most gracious Majesty in these parts, and that he hopes to possess himself of Coventry and raise Warwickshire, and[Pg 21] make a good stand in this county, if Essex should march hither: in that case, you see, we shall not need to quit Milverton; and the battle may be fought so near home, that even Kate will see how fit it is that I should be in the field. Gout or no gout, I can get as far as Stoneleigh Abbey, and meet his Majesty.”

“I am afraid the King reckons without his host,” answered Juxon: “I doubt if the gates of Coventry will open more readily for him than those of Hull:—the citizens there are all for the parliament.”

“The citizens of Coventry be hanged,” said Sir Charles: “they have only their own train bands to man the walls,—a set of knock-knee’d rascals:—why, a squib in their breeches would clear their market-place.”

“Yes,” said Arthur; “and they would run like rats to their holes at the very clatter of a horse-hoof.”

“Perhaps they might, Arthur,” said Juxon smiling; “but the matter will be to get this horse into the streets, and this squib into the market-place.”

Sir Charles, who well knew that Juxon was[Pg 22] no coward, bit his lips, and said, “Really I cannot think what is come to you, parson: you are always now a prophet of evil:—why the cause of the King would soon be down, if all had such faint hearts about it as you have.”

“Faint hearts, sir, are fond of feeding on false hopes; stout hearts look at naked dangers without blenching. The notion that a rebellion of citizens can be put down by a few horses is foolish. It prevents, first, earnest preparations to subdue it; and, at last, when these are attempted, they prove too late, and altogether ineffectual.”

“Well, Juxon, Sir Oliver here and I have done our parts, and shall do them to the last: your words don’t touch me; but I must say, you love to damp us; I hope, however, that the boy cares as little for you as I do.”

“You need not to be rude as well as angry, Sir Charles.”

“Rude! methinks you forget yourself!—a truce to all compliments. Did you not call me faint-hearted?”

“Your memory is short indeed, Sir Charles, not to remember who first used the word.”

[Pg 23]

“Come, come,” interrupted the old knight, “I wo’n’t have any falling out between friends. Are we not all king’s men, loyal and true? It may be, Sir Charles, that Juxon sees further into matters than we do; but his heart is with us.”

“That may seem clear to you, Sir Oliver:—time will show us all men in their true colours: I have been right once before, and I may be right again.”

“What do you mean?” asked Juxon, reddening with anger: “do you doubt my loyalty, sir?”

The evil temper of Sir Charles was so strong within him, that, desirous only of vexing Juxon to the uttermost, he replied with a sneer, “You have taken care to secure yourself a friend in the enemy’s camp; so that your parsonage at Old Beech will be quite safe, come what may; and you mean to stick by it, as I am told.”

“It is an insinuation as false as it is base to suspect and utter it: try me not farther, or you will make me forget my sacred calling.”

“You are not likely to do that by what I[Pg 24] hear of your doings at Old Beech. You preach like a Puritan already: it were a pity to lose a fat rectory if the Parliament get uppermost.”

The mean and cruel turn, which Sir Charles thus gave to his malicious charge, so startled and affected Juxon, who had always been both honest and earnest in his pulpit, that he paused in his reply,—and was sending up a swift ejaculation to Heaven for the grace of patience, when Sir Oliver angrily interposed.

“Zounds and thunder, Sir Charles, you might have remembered, among the doings of Friend Juxon, that he has furnished right stout troopers from his own purse, and that every man in his parish, capable of bearing arms, who can be spared from home, has been sent off already to carry a pike for King Charles. I think the devil is in thee, or that yellow Margery hath crossed thy path this morning.”

The mention of yellow Margery was never pleasant to Sir Charles, and a scowl came over his brow at the sound of her name; but he answered in a dogged and sullen manner,—“Ay, that is all very well: it is good to have[Pg 25] two strings to one’s bow. I suppose, Master Juxon will not deny that that canting fanatic, Cuthbert Noble, is his friend. My steward, who came last night from Hertfordshire, saw the vile hypocrite, with tuck and partizan, on guard in the market-place at St. Albans. Your grave tutor is a lieutenant of pikemen. I hope I shall ride over the rascal some fine day.”

“A fanatic he may be—a hypocrite he cannot be; and you say truly that I am his friend; but I will not trust myself with another word—I must return home. Sir Charles, from henceforth I shall look on you as a stranger; and did it become my cloth I would chastise you.”

“Insolent priest! thy cloth is thy protection,” said Sir Charles, advancing with a lifted hunting whip, as if to strike Juxon.

“You need not come between us, Sir Oliver,” said Juxon, with a look of quiet scorn: “in spite of the anger in his heart, he knows when to be prudent.”

“Odd’s life!” said the old knight, “I will have no more ill blood at Milverton:—look you,[Pg 26] go your ways, both of you, and sleep over it, and come here again to-morrow, and let us make all up. You are both right, and both wrong—faults on both sides; that is always the story of a quarrel.”

With these words he took Juxon by the hand and shook it kindly, adding, “There go, man, get your horse; you’ll be yourself again before you reach home. Here, Arthur, boy, go with him, and call Richard to saddle his hobby.—I’ll make Sir Charles listen to reason.”

This easy and indolent mode of confounding right and wrong, and escaping out of the proper and severe course of honourable judgment, was by no means agreeable to the upright and manly Juxon. He coldly gave his hand, and wishing Sir Oliver a good morning, ascended the steps with Arthur, casting a look of silent and expressive indignation at Sir Charles, who regarded him in return with violent eyes and cheeks livid with rage.

As Juxon and Arthur passed round to the side of the mansion facing the court-yard, they saw Katharine Heywood and Jane Lambert[Pg 27] standing together under the shade of a tree, in earnest conversation. At the sound of the approaching footsteps they turned their heads; and it was evident to George Juxon that the subject of their discourse was connected with what had already passed at the interview between Katharine and himself that very morning.

“Oh! what a thing is man! how far from power,
From settled peace and rest!
He is some twenty sev’ral men, at least,
Each sev’ral hour.”

The sweet and sudden calm which fell upon the roused and troubled passions of Juxon at the very sight of Jane Lambert brought that stanza of Herbert’s to his memory, and he gave utterance to it as he joined and stood with them for a few moments, while Arthur went forward to order out his horse.

If Katharine had not already told her friend that Juxon was now truly informed of all those circumstances which, at the time, must of necessity have perplexed him about her conduct and her probable engagement, the expression of his fine eyes would have revealed to her that[Pg 28] grateful fact. There is a silent eloquence in the look of one who truly and fondly loves which needs no interpreter. The avowal of his attachment, which he had upon principle resolved to suppress, his eyes, prompted by the pulses of his heart, spoke as plainly to Jane as though she had heard it from his lips in all the language of ardour and admiration.

Katharine questioned him reproachingly on the cause of his sudden return to Old Beech, but he excused himself without betraying the true reason. They gave credit to his simple assurance that it was not possible for him to prolong his visit at present; and with a tender pressure of the hand he took his leave of Jane, promising Katharine that he would soon ride over to Milverton again.

It was not till his horse had turned the distant corner of the road, and was lost to view, that Arthur came in from the outer gate; and the distress and dejection of the youth were so plainly to be read in his countenance, that Katharine took him aside to ask what was the matter. He related to her the quarrel between[Pg 29] Juxon and Sir Charles Lambert just as it had occurred. She heard it with more pain than surprise, for she was well aware of the unaltered nature of Sir Charles; and she knew that he cherished mean and vindictive feelings towards Juxon for his conduct at the time of his own ferocious assault on Cuthbert Noble, and for all his subsequent kindness and friendship to that injured student. On one account she very deeply regretted this occurrence. It could not fail to put a very serious obstacle in the way of that union between Jane Lambert and Juxon which she had just indulged herself with the hope she might soon have the happiness of seeing perfected at the altar.

The reflections of Juxon himself, as he rode homewards, were of a complexion as varied as the face of an April sky. His thoughts were overshadowed by many a cloud of fear, and care, and coming sorrow, while ever and anon they became glad and bright as if coloured with blue sky and sunbeams, and the rainbow of hope. Notwithstanding his uncomfortable quarrel with Sir Charles, it was a day to be marked in his[Pg 30] calendar with a white stone. The day was so hot, that he walked his horse leisurely all the way; and when he had gone about half the distance between Milverton and Old Beech, he pulled up near a water trough, under the shadow of a majestic old oak, and dismounted. There was a bank of earth round the trunk of the tree, on which he seated himself: his beast stood indolently still, after having dipped its nose in the trough; and both rider and horse luxuriated in the cool shade. The murmur of the spring that fed the trough was the only sound to be heard; and the loneliness of the spot, for it was in the middle of a common, suggested pleasing thoughts of gratitude for the human charity which had thus provided for the comfort and refreshment of man and his dumb companions in labour. By a natural train of associations the mind of Juxon was led to reflect on charity in its more high and heavenly signification, and on those works which it should produce. He considered what the earth would be if subjected to the law of love, and what it really was. He bethought him of the mission and office of the Prince of[Pg 31] Peace: he remembered that he was a minister of that new and glorious covenant announced by the voice of angels in a heavenly melody,—“Peace on earth, good will towards men.” He mused upon the titles by which ministers are designated,—watchmen, shepherds,—and he was more than ever confirmed in his resolution to remain with his flock at Old Beech during the coming troubles. “‘The hireling fleeth,’” said he to himself, “‘because he is an hireling.’ Why was I so moved at the taunt of malignity and ignorance? How strong a thing must be the fear of man, when I can allow myself to fear the opinion of one whom I despise, and whom, in truth, I ought to pity; when I can dare to wish for an opportunity of showing on the battle-field that my heart is English, loyal, and true. I am priest of the temple; I will defend my church porch to the last, and keep out the wolf as long as I can.” As Juxon was thus occupied in sober meditation, he heard the tramp of a horse galloping across the common, in the direction of Milverton. On looking up, he instantly knew the horse and the figure of Sir Charles[Pg 32] Lambert. He felt certain that nothing but a fit of boiling and ungovernable anger would have led to this swift pursuit of him, and was at no loss to conjecture the nature of the trial for which he must prepare. Juxon never rode from home in those unquiet days without pistols; but come what might from the violence of this infuriated man, he resolved that nothing should induce him to use them in his defence. Although as a clergyman he could not wear a sword, yet he often carried with him a cane of Italian invention, which contained a sword-blade, and by means of a secret spring threw out a small guard at the handle, which supplied a hilt, and thus, if at any time assaulted with the sword, he was furnished with some, though an imperfect, weapon of resistance. He was fortunately thus provided on the present occasion.

Sir Charles no sooner reached the spot than he threw himself impetuously from his horse, and said with a loud oath, “This shall settle our difference for ever.” At the same time he drew his rapier, and advanced upon his antagonist.

[Pg 33]

Juxon, without a word, took a defensive posture, and opposing his cane-sword to that of Sir Charles, parried his fierce passes with such a quick eye and so strong a hand, that, in a rencontre which could not have lasted two minutes, he twisted the sword of his opponent from his angry grasp, and made it fly several yards off. He as immediately secured it. “By hell, you shall not escape me!” said Sir Charles, frantic with vexation; and plucking a pistol from his belt, he discharged it at Juxon as he returned from picking up the sword. The ball struck the buckle of Juxon’s hat-band, and glanced off. He felt a slight shock, but, as it came aslant upon it, the concussion was not so violent as to stun him.

Sir Charles dropped the pistol, seized upon a second, which was in his belt, but, ere he could deliver his fire, Juxon had beaten aside his arm, and the bullet spent its force harmlessly on the yielding air.

“Madman!” said Juxon with an earnest and solemn tone, “let us from our hearts thank God. He has preserved you from the sin of[Pg 34] murder, and me from being hurried into the holy presence of the Prince of Peace from a scene of guilty contention, in the cause of which I am far from innocent. There is your sword:—there is my hand:—by these lips no human being shall ever be informed of what has just occurred. Your present situation and your present duties call upon you to use your sword in the field of honour and in the service of your king: do so in a good spirit, and forget this hour as fully as I forgive it.”

The burning coal fell, guided by Heaven, upon the humbled head of the proud one. Scalding tears stood in his eyes; the blood rushed hotly to his cheeks. His embarrassment was so great, that for a while he could utter nothing. “Let me hope,” said Juxon, “that I have lost an enemy, and gained a friend.”

“You have done more, much more,” answered Sir Charles: “you are the first person on earth who ever touched my heart with a feeling altogether new:—I shall bless this day for ever. You shall never repent your noble[Pg 35] consideration for my character. This sword shall never again be dishonoured.” Here Sir Charles fell upon his knees. “I ask pardon of God and of you, Juxon, for my murderous purpose. I feel that the hand of Providence has been in this strange work—I am not yet an utter reprobate.”

“God forbid!” said Juxon, as he raised him up: “we will talk together of better hopes. Suppose we return together to Milverton, and show ourselves as reconciled heartily—it will, I think, spare that kind family many hours of uneasiness.”

Sir Charles acceded with eagerness to the proposal, and mounting their horses they rode back quietly together.

[Pg 36]


And is there care in heaven? and is there love
In heavenly spirits to these creatures base,
That may compassion of their evils move?
There is; else much more wretched were the case
Of men than beasts. But O th’ exceeding grace
Of highest God! that loves his creatures so,
And all his works with mercy doth embrace,
That blessed angels he sends to and fro,
To serve to wicked man, to serve his wicked foe.

The village of Old Beech, which has been often named in this story as the living of George Juxon, was a retired and picturesque place, containing about three hundred inhabitants. Here, as at Cheddar, there was no lord of the manor in residence. The principal owner of the village lands for the last twenty years had been a Roman Catholic gentleman, who, being single, and of a severe and gloomy temper of mind, had, before this accession of property, embraced[Pg 37] the monastic life in Italy, and taken the vows as a brother of the Carthusian order. The lessee of his estates had let them advantageously to four substantial farmers; one of whom occupied the venerable old manor-house. Its quaint wooden gables and ornamental carpentry always arrested the attention of the passer by their venerable appearance.

A bay window, with five lights in two divisions, marked very distinctly the situation of the great hall; a noble apartment used only by the tenant as a vast store-room for the produce of his orchard and his garden. The broad gates hung broken and decaying from the square stone columns in which their hinges had been fastened by iron staples, and the pavement of the court was half hid by rank weeds. The church was small and ancient, and stood, not far from the manor-house, on a gentle eminence, which commanded a beautiful flat of meadow-land, watered by a small clear river that meandered through the fields in fine and graceful curves, was richly fringed with willows, and turned in its course two clean-looking busy mills. Not[Pg 38] far from the churchyard stood a tall and stately beech-tree, about two centuries old, and near it the stump of the very tree from which the village had been first named was still visible.

The smooth bark of this noble old beech was covered with initial letters, true love knots, and joined hearts, rudely carved by rustic hands, many of which, it might be seen by the dates affixed, had long since mouldered under the grassy heaps, to which lowly beds of peace the very same bell still tolled the parting summons of their lineal descendants.

One of the most remarkable features in this pretty village was the rectory. The basement story was completely built of glazed bricks in checkered patterns, while that over it was constructed of fine massive black timbers, the walls being plastered between; the whole was surmounted with elevated overhanging roof and lofty gables. The entrance was through a fine long porch of timber, and the woodwork of this, as well as of the projecting portions of the roofs and gables, was elaborately ornamented after the fashion of the fifteenth century.[Pg 39] Of Juxon’s habits something has already been said, but a more particular account of his home life is necessary to show him faithfully in the relation in which he stood to his parish. Having a private fortune, in addition to the proceeds of his living, he was as able as he proved himself always willing to benefit his people. When he came first among them he found them much neglected and in great darkness: his first step was to establish a school, and to win the hearts of the parents through their children, all of whom he had taught to read, and many of the most promising yet further instructed in writing and arithmetic. A few of the old villagers, and one of the most acute of his farmers, who, though unable to read himself, was well furnished with all that worldly wisdom which may be orally conveyed in pithy proverbs, and committed to memory for practical guidance in life, resisted this strange innovation. But steady perseverance and good-humoured resolution soon conquered all opposition; and Juxon had the satisfaction of seeing around him much improvement in that knowledge which makes the mind,[Pg 40] and the heart of man, accessible to the light of divine truth.

He was diligent in his duties, open in his manners, cheering in his words, and wise in his charities; he distinguished well between the objects of them, knew how to give, and when and what; he farmed his own glebe, partly as an amusement, and also to set a good example before his farmers of just behaviour to labourers. He understood cottage economy as well as the most prudent among them; could talk with them over the wickets of their little gardens about their succession crops, and about the fattening of their pigs and poultry, and knew every poor man’s cow upon the village common.

The happy children upon the green never paused in their merry games when he passed them, and the winner of a race was doubly pleased if Master Juxon’s eye had seen his triumph. The rough blacksmith, when, at breathing times, he stood out under the shade of the ancient and hollow oak near which his shed had been erected, always tried to engage him in a little talk; and although these brief colloquies[Pg 41] were commonly of simple occurrences, yet the sturdy smith forgot not the dropped word of advice, and he sung his part in the village quire o’Sundays with his understanding as well as with his fine deep voice. It might be truly said, that the parson of Old Beech was popular in his parish, and deserved to be so. A hogshead of wheat, and another of pease or barley, stood ever in his hall, out of which the aged widows and the poor housekeepers of the village were always liberally supplied in their need. He would patiently listen to their long and prosy tales about their family as they sat in his hospitable porch, without hurrying them, though perhaps they had told him the same story for weeks in succession. But if an angel from heaven dwelt among three hundred human beings, and passed his life in acts of love and kindness towards them, he should not want enemies, nor should he reap gratitude and good will from all; therefore Juxon was regarded by a small and envious knot with evil eyes. Of this party, a small chandler or grocer, a publican, and one of the millers, who was sinking into poverty[Pg 42] from slothful habits, were the leaders, and the worthy rector had sense enough to know that in due time they would show their enmity openly.

However, with the answer of a good conscience, he walked about daily, without the shadow of a fear, and lay down to sleep in peace, well knowing that God alone can make any of us to dwell in safety. Within the last two years many things had occurred to awaken his own mind to more serious views than those with which he had at first entered upon the ministerial office. The questions concerning scandals among the clergy engaged his serious attention; and his opinions about the lawfulness, or rather the expediency, of some practices, the good or evil of which he had never previously considered, now underwent a change.

He would never admit for a moment, that to hunt, or to shoot, or to fish, were diversions inherently sinful; but he began to look on time as a talent, for which every man must render a solemn account, and the time of a clergyman[Pg 43] as more especially given him to be employed to graver ends than could be honestly and effectually attained, if sports and amusements of a nature so idle and absorbing were not resigned. Nor was this the only change in his opinions;—a closer study of the sacred volume, for the purpose of preaching its saving truths more plainly to his people; an earnest desire to set before them the glory of gospel hopes, and the comfort of Scripture promises; and a lively recollection of some of his conversations with Cuthbert Noble, satisfied him that if he would be found faithful he must preach, with authority and with persuasion, free reconciliation to God through a willing and all-sufficient Saviour.

The prayerful exercises to which the composition of his sermons now compelled him produced a blessed influence on his own spirit; and he never stood up in his pulpit, as an ambassador for Christ, without a most affectionate solicitude for the welfare of immortal souls, and a present sense of the high privilege and deep responsibility of his sacred office. His growing seriousness, as[Pg 44] a clergyman, had been more apparent to Katharine Heywood than to any one else at Milverton; for she was too deeply taught to be deceived in the evidences of a living grace. In his parish his earnestness in his pulpit was well known, as might be seen from the report of it which had reached Sir Charles Lambert, and which partly caused those taunts and insinuations, the issue of which, in the quarrel and the encounter that followed, has been already related; but to common observers, as Juxon’s language had no peculiar religious phraseology, and as his manners, his happy countenance, and his manly habits, prepossessed their good opinion, without alarming any of their prejudices, he seemed one of themselves, and they neither knew nor cared to know his inner man.

However, as Juxon and Sir Charles rode back slowly to Milverton after the violent scene which might have terminated so awfully for both, he was determined not to lose so favourable an occasion for setting before the softened transgressor the great and common evil of[Pg 45] man’s nature, and the blessed remedy. He did this with a feeling, a faithfulness, and a humility which surprized and affected his silent companion greatly, and which at last drew from him a confession of a most interesting kind. He told Juxon that, from his earliest childhood, he had found himself an object of dislike and aversion to all his family; that his elder brother, his senior only by one year, had been the indulged and favoured pet both of his father and mother, while he had been always either treated with neglect or addressed in the language of unkindness and reproach; that hate had begotten hate, and that he had passed his early youth hating and hateful; that at the age of sixteen, as his brother was out shooting on the manor, he lost his life by the accidental discharge of his own gun, as he was carelessly forcing his way through some thick furze bushes. He confessed that he was inwardly rejoiced at this calamity; that he looked upon the corpse without one emotion of sorrow or even of pity, and that he viewed with a malignant satisfaction the agony of his parents, more especially that of[Pg 46] his mother, whose persecution of him had been perpetual, and of a petty and irritating nature. This feeling of his was so irrepressible as to be seen. The thought that their despised boy should inherit the estates and the title had proved so very intolerable to his mother that she could not endure his presence at home. He was therefore sent away, and placed under the charge of a severe tutor, who, finding him the ignorant and evil-disposed youth which the letters of his father had represented him, governed him with strictness, and instructed him with an evident contempt for his want of capacity and for his backwardness in those attainments which, in truth, it had been impossible for him to acquire; it having been the mean pleasure of his mother to deny him the advantages enjoyed by his brother. He related the story of his mother’s funeral, to which he was called after an absence of two years, and the death of his father, which had taken place four years later, while he himself was abroad. It appeared by these accounts that subsequent to the death of his brother he[Pg 47] had never enjoyed or indeed desired any intercourse with his parents, and that when he came to take possession of the estates, he found his sisters, who were much younger than himself, grown up and left to his protection. As they were not mixed up in his mind with the injuries of his childhood, such little kindness as he had ever felt capable of he had entertained for them. But even here he stated he had found disappointment; for one being timid and of no character, feared him, while his sister Jane, the only being who had ever behaved well to him, he nevertheless knew did not, and perhaps could not, love him as a brother.

This confession was poured into the ear of a generous and a thoughtful Christian, deeply skilled in the diseases of the human heart. It was evident to Juxon that the depravity of our fallen nature, common to all, had, in the miserable heart now laid bare before him, been inflamed by the early unkindness of parents, and had taken the dark colours of a rancorous and cruel disposition. Yet, even in this apparently desperate case, there was a ray of hope, there[Pg 48] was a light of that mysterious something which may be observed in the human heart, as a fragment of its better nature that has survived the fall,—a capacity of loving; which, as it could find no issue towards man, exhibited itself in a rare kindness and affection to dogs, horses, and birds. To these living creatures Sir Charles, who was to man indifferent or cruel, showed himself gentle, patient, and fond. Juxon had often observed this with pleasure: he now caught this golden string, and by it he led up the mind of his hearer to contemplate the God of creation upon a throne of universal love, caring for the meanest of his creatures, and revealing himself more especially to man in the relation of Father. Thence, by a swift transition, he painted man (the whole race) prodigal, miserable, naked, feeding with swine, till returning to their Father they were forgiven and with embraces; nor, while he fixed attention upon the mighty Saviour, from whose gracious lips this parable proceeded, did he fail to preach Jesus as the incarnation of Divine love, reconciling the lost children of earth to their heavenly Father, waiting to be gracious.[Pg 49] He did not thus speak in vain:—who shall dare to look down upon any human being as lost, hardened, reprobate? Who maketh men to differ? Who can make the rock yield water, and dry up the Euphrates? He who can change flesh into stone when it is his pleasure.

But we return to show the connection of what has passed with the progress of our story.

It was a most welcome sight to the family at Milverton, to see Juxon and Sir Charles return amicably together after the quarrel of the morning; but there was something, nevertheless, very inexplicable in the manners of both. Those of the former were far more serious and absorbed than Katharine had ever observed them before; while the latter had an embarrassed air, a softened tone of voice, and an expression of deep, real, unaffected sorrow in his countenance.

Whatever had passed between them, it was evident that the reconciliation was on both sides of the sincere nature of hearty forgiveness. As Katharine contemplated the brow and the features of Sir Charles, she discerned traces of[Pg 50] a mental working such as she had never seen at any previous period of their frequent intercourse; and, for the first time, she looked on him without aversion and without suspicion.

To his great honour, and as the strongest proof of the good effect wrought on him by the events of that memorable day, he took the first opportunity that offered, to declare, in the absence of Juxon, the circumstances of their rencontre, and the generous conduct of his noble antagonist.

There is a something in the honest avowal of shame, and the honest recognition of another’s excellence, which, as it can only proceed from a humbled and subdued heart, so it will instantly engage the approval of every well constituted mind.

From that very hour Sir Charles found himself regarded by all at Milverton with a new feeling,—all countenances were changed towards him: he had gotten a friend in Katharine,—he found the eyes of his sister Jane ever resting upon him, with a new and strange delight: Sir Oliver, to whom discord was trouble,[Pg 51] and who had never wholly resigned the hope of having Sir Charles for a son-in-law, was beyond measure gratified; and Arthur felt a more undoubting confidence and ease at the thought of serving under him than he had hitherto admitted.

A sense of all these mercies, a consciousness that he was drawn with the cords of love by an invisible hand, deepened his repentance and humility, and gave life, strength, and love to his new-born faith; but all this was a secret work, in which he was wisely assisted by the prudent counsel and the sound judgment of Juxon. It was fortunate, that, amid the stirring and necessary duties of those times, he was provided with so plain, so manly, so healthy an adviser. Side by side, with a profound self-abasement, grew a sentiment of self-respect, that prevented his spirit being paralysed, or cast down below the right degree of energy required of him by his position at the moment. He was now truly prepared, in a more noble frame of mind, to render good and faithful service wherever the cause of his king and country[Pg 52] might lead him. Now, too, he understood and respected the motives which decided Juxon to remain at his own proper post, and to perform his own sacred duties to the last moment.

In the fortnight which passed about this period he lived long; that is, he gathered the experience which is usually the fruit of a much longer space of time.

Swiftly as the days glided by, they fully developed the love of Juxon and Jane Lambert; and, although Katharine could not persuade Juxon to hear of Jane’s being exposed to the inconvenience and danger of becoming his wife, at a time when the clergy might expect a persecution, yet she did enjoy the happiness of seeing them seated before her in the sweet and interesting relation of avowed and betrothed lovers.

[Pg 53]


Food for powder, food for powder; they’ll fill a pit as well
as better: tush, man, mortal men, mortal men.
King Henry IV.

Although Cuthbert Noble was by degrees gaining a little experience in his new and unsuitable calling, yet it must be confessed that a little of his enthusiasm evaporated under the necessary process of being drilled and taught his exercise; and not only so, but he began to be very much puzzled and perplexed at the opinions and the conduct of many with whom he was now to live and to act. The Colonel of the regiment in which he had received his appointment was, indeed, a man eminently worthy of respect and esteem. He was a devout, reserved person, of a noble and grave presence,—an approved soldier, and a sincere and sound patriot. He considered himself to be opposing the crown[Pg 54] upon strict constitutional principles; and, being conscientiously attached to the Presbyterian form of church government, desired the overthrow of the prelacy, and the total abolition of episcopacy. Nevertheless, he viewed with distaste and a cold sufferance the extravagant proceedings of the various independent sects now loose upon society; and discouraged, as far as he could, without danger to the one great and common cause, the practices which already obtained in the ranks of the Parliament levies. Every vain and intoxicated fanatic, who had the power of uttering a few dozen unconnected and rambling sentences without book, claimed for his shallow babbling the authority of inspiration, and asserted his gift of speech as a divine commission, by which he was called to the office of a preacher of the word of God. His own religion was serious, practical, intelligible; and he had a sternness of sound judgment, before which all flighty pretensions and false confidences fell down or fled away. His name was Maxwell: he had been a friend of the father of Francis Heywood, and was very[Pg 55] well acquainted with Francis. Owing to this circumstance Cuthbert was favourably introduced to him, and was always very considerately treated; but their characters, their ages, and their relative situations in the regiment, made it impossible for them to become intimate with each other. Moreover, the earliest and latest waking thoughts of Colonel Maxwell were wholly taken up with the very important duties of preparing his corps by strict discipline and close training for the day of trial, which could not be very far distant; therefore Cuthbert was left, soon after he joined, to make out as well as he could with the society of the captain of his company and his brother lieutenant. At first, indeed, for a very few days, he had enjoyed the comfort of having Francis Heywood in the same quarters, but the horse had marched down to Northampton, and they were thus separated. Now the captain of Cuthbert’s company had been a master butcher, of the name of Ruddiman, about forty years of age: a fine portly man, standing about six feet three inches in height, with ample chest and broad shoulders, little eyes, red[Pg 56] cheeks, a low forehead, and coarse greasy black hair. He had a fist that would fell a bullock, and a voice that would frighten a herd of them. In spite of the very hardening influence of his calling, he had nothing unkind in his temper. He had thrived greatly in his business, was honest and just in all his dealings, a good husband, a good father, and a good citizen—with a house full of children, and a pretty pasture farm in the county of Hertfordshire. He was as bold as he was strong; but was here, nevertheless, solely in obedience to the wishes of an active, ambitious, meddling wife, who was a bitter, censorious, religious politician, and whose pride it was that her husband should be a down-king man, and a captain in the Parliament army. The good captain himself, meanwhile, barring his wife’s sovereign will, and the honour of the title, would much rather have looked after his business at home; or, at all events, have been permitted to join a horse regiment, though only as a sergeant. But Mrs. Ruddiman had decided otherwise, and had told him that, if he only served for a few weeks or months as a captain,[Pg 57] and looked well about him, he might get made a commissary and get a contract, and make his fortune. This last consideration was not without its weight; for Master Ruddiman had always a keen eye to the main chance. The brother lieutenant of Cuthbert was a very different sort of personage. He was a thin man, of middle stature, with a pale face and red hair, under thirty years of age. His trade had been that of a dyer: he had rendered conspicuous service at the last election, in securing the return of a Puritan to Parliament, and had been rewarded thus: he was needy, and the pay of his humble rank an object to him. He had great fluency of words, and was a raving Independent of the most virulent order. His name was Elkanah Sippet: he was ignorant, irritable, and vain. He knew a little Latin, with which he was wont to garnish his talk when he wanted to pass off for a scholar, and puzzle big Captain Ruddiman; and he could fill his mouth with Scripture phrases and texts when he wished to impress Cuthbert with a favourable notion of his piety. Ruddiman and Sippet hated each other with about as natural[Pg 58] and as cordial a hatred as might consist with their being on the same side in this contest. Neither of them could understand or like poor Cuthbert; but both took refuge from the uneasy contempt with which they regarded each other, by endeavouring to conciliate his good opinion, or rather his preference.

To choose between them was easy: Ruddiman was worth a dozen Sippets in the qualities of his nature; nor was there any thing of the hypocrite in him. He was dull, and slow of comprehension; therefore he seldom suffered himself to speak about religion, but passively knelt and passively listened to the long prayers and longer preachings of the chaplain. He had been so stupified and subdued at home about points of faith and church government by his wife’s brother, a warm and wordy brazier, the godly elder of the congregation to which his wife belonged, that he yielded, partly for the sake of peace, and partly in distrust of his own reason. Thus, in plain fact, he feared God truly for himself, and received the interpretations of Scripture delivered by the clergy,[Pg 59] and the lay elders of his sect, with a submission as implicit, and an apprehension as confused, as the Italian peasant listens to the Latin oration of a Franciscan friar. His politics were more simple; and he was in the habit of expressing what he felt about them by always calling the King the man Charles Stuart, and all the principal leaders of the Parliament party right honest and God-fearing worthies. “A man’s a man,” he would say: “I don’t see why any one should be called lord over another; and as for bishops, bless us, why should they live in palaces, and hold forth about taxes in the House of Lords?—Don’t you think that’s wrong, Master Noble, quite wrong? Why it is writ in the Bible that the kingdom of Christ is not of this world.” To this political creed Cuthbert would give assent; but a quick memory whispered to his inner man, “Why then do my servants fight?” As for his brother lieutenant, his tone was always rancorous and unchristian: he was of a mean and narrow mind, without charity and without patience; selfish and tricky, and, withal, quite intent[Pg 60] on rising upon the ruin of his betters. He felt a sort of inferiority in the presence of Cuthbert that a little awed him; but his nature would break out occasionally. It was no small advantage to Cuthbert that his two companions had seen him, for a few days, often walking and conversing with Francis Heywood, whose soldierly appearance had attracted general attention among the troops. Moreover, though far indeed from the aptitude desired by Colonel Maxwell, the intelligence of Cuthbert in the field of exercise was greater than that of either Ruddiman or Sippet. Perhaps, after all, the greatest trial of Cuthbert arose from the manners of those with whom he was now compelled, by the distribution of quarters, to live night and day. As officers of the same company, Captain Ruddiman, Sippet, and himself, took their meals together, and he was compelled to occupy a stretcher in the same sleeping chamber with Sippet. Now Ruddiman was a very gross and unclean feeder, and had a most disgusting habit of hawking and spitting on the floor all day long; while Sippet, who secretly indulged in the too[Pg 61] frequent use of strong waters, always stunk of spirits, and snored through his nights so loudly, as very seriously to disturb the rest of Cuthbert: nor was it possible, with so irritating an accompaniment, to comfort his wakeful hours with those meditations with which he had often solaced his night watches at Milverton while confined by his wound. However, his spirit, though fretted, did not sink under these annoyances: he rose constantly with the first glimmer of dawn: he did his utmost to perfect himself in all matters of drill and discipline. He gave his best attention to all his instructors, and he performed all his duties with manly cheerfulness, and in the best possible spirit. Colonel Maxwell saw this with silent satisfaction; but he was not a man for lavish praises and sudden intimacies, nor was he without a clear perception that Cuthbert would never make a thorough soldier; indeed his immovable gravity was sometimes very near being altogether conquered by a burst of laughter at the mode in which Cuthbert exhibited the solemn earnestness of[Pg 62] his desire to learn his exercises thoroughly, and to command his men properly.

One day, for instance, very soon after Cuthbert’s arrival, as he rode through the different squads of recruits who were learning their facings, he found Cuthbert in one corner of the field, with his head in the air, and a corporal giving him private instructions; and, unperceived by the former, he heard the following strange query:—“Now, my brave man, pray have the goodness to explain to me, very exactly, how it is, that is, upon what principle it is, that, if I place my feet in this extraordinary manner, I shall come to what you call ‘the right about face?’”

“Principle! God save you, master! I know nothing at all about principles; but I know, if you do as I bid you, and put the ball of your right toe to your left heel, and raise the fore part of your feet, and come smartly, heel round, on your two heels, and bring back your right sharply and square with the left, you will come to the right about like a man and a musketeer.”

Again, at an after period, as the Colonel passed[Pg 63] the spot where a company of pikemen was parading under the orders of Cuthbert, the warlike student, who was just fresh from the perusal of a military treatise in Greek, having taken post at a farther distance than usual in the front, and noticing a little whispering and unsteadiness, called out with most innocent seriousness,—“Silence, men, silence: the Lacedæmonians never spoke in the ranks.”

The pikemen seeing the Colonel near became silent, rather in respect to his presence than obedience to their simple-hearted lieutenant, and wondered the while what county militia these Lacedæmonians might be. The commanding officer, averting his head to conceal his irrepressible smiles, went forward; and Cuthbert, quite unconscious of any thing strange or ridiculous, proceeded to number off, and prove his pikemen according to the intricate system of the slow and cumbrous movements of those days.

Never, however, was a human being more thoroughly out of his element than Master Cuthbert as lieutenant in this said company of[Pg 64] pikemen under the orders of Captain Ruddiman. He could contrive, indeed, a little leisure and a little solitude most days; but even those brief seasons of meditation and enjoyment were often broken in upon by a sergeant hurrying after him to say that perhaps eleven set of new straps for back and breast pieces were wanting, or that two pikes were broken, and three men had lost the scabbards of their tucks.

Moreover, he could hardly find a private path or walk near St. Albans, where he did not come suddenly upon a few military sinners, who had stolen out of the sight of their preaching officers and praying comrades to have a game of trap-ball, tip-cat, or the greater abominations of cross and pile, pitch and hustle, and chuck farthing. Nay, upon one occasion, he surprised a little party under a buttress of the abbey playing at primero, trump, put, or beat the knave out of doors, with two dollys sitting in their company, of whom it might be plainly seen that they had no business in a garrison of Puritans. But he was in these moments usually in too absorbed a mood to take notice of and reprove these transgressors,[Pg 65] and was quite as anxious to turn away his eyes as the soldiers were to see them so averted.

One day, as he wandered into the abbey a little before sunset, and was standing lost in thought before the monument of Lord Bacon, and contemplating the fine alabaster effigy of that great philosopher, he heard himself gently addressed by name, and turning to the speaker, he recognised, with as much surprise as delight, his worthy and invaluable friend Randal, the surgeon of Warwick, to whose skilful care and kind treatment he held himself indebted, under God, for his life.

Their pleasure at meeting was mutual, and was increased when they found that they were again providentially brought together, and held commissions in the same corps. Randal had offered his services to the Parliament, and had been appointed the surgeon of this levy. Henceforth Cuthbert would enjoy the comfort of his society and the advantage of his counsel. They agreed instantly to live and mess together; and, after a long and interesting conversation about[Pg 66] Milverton, the Heywoods, and his friend Juxon, they walked together to the Colonel’s quarter, where Randal had been invited to sup; and Cuthbert returned, in high spirits, and with a heart full of joy and thanksgiving, to take his own meal with Ruddiman and Sippet, and to make known to them his intention of leaving their mess, and living in future with his old friend Randal. Ruddiman was sincerely vexed, ate less, and hawked rather more than usual, and proposed as an arrangement, not unnatural, that the surgeon should join their party instead of this breaking up; and Lieutenant Sippet, who wished much to avoid being left alone with Ruddiman, very earnestly seconded this proposal; observing, that he thought it a very proper subject for most serious consideration, and that they ought to seek the Lord for guidance, that they might plainly discern his will in this important matter.

This, Cuthbert said, he deemed to be an occasion on which so solemn a proceeding was altogether uncalled for and improper. Sippet misquoted and misapplied a shower of texts,[Pg 67] which, in a sadder mood, would have made poor Cuthbert’s head ache. Ruddiman did not see what they were to pray about, for his part, and thought a man might do his duty to God and his neighbour very well without so much prayer. “But if you must pray,” said he, “Friend Sippet, pray to be kept from putting your mouth so often to that stone bottle of strong waters at the corner of your bed, and from snoring so loud every night, man. Why, though I am next room, you waked me this morning before cock-crow; and I doubt if Master Noble has had a sound night’s sleep since he joined us.” Cuthbert hastily wished them good night, and withdrew; so in what manner the wrathful Sippet resented this affront, or whether he did so at all, he never heard.

[Pg 68]


Pray now buy some: I love a ballad in print, a’ life; for
then we are sure they are true.
Winter’s Tale.

Although the good parson of Cheddar was as yet unmolested, and continued his ministrations in peace, he was far too sagacious not to perceive the growing strength of Parliament, and never partook of those extravagant hopes, which, upon the arrival of the Marquis of Hertford, at the city of Wells, animated so many of the gentlemen and the clergy in Somersetshire. But he gave such attendance at the meetings of a public nature as was necessary to show plainly the part which he had taken,—and he set a faithful example of loyalty in his parish. The son and the son-in-law of old Blount the franklin, and most of the yeomen of Cheddar, offered their services to the Marquis, and repaired[Pg 69] to his quarters well mounted and armed.—It was a deeply mortifying reflection to Noble and his wife that their son Cuthbert had joined the forces of the Parliament, and was already in arms against his king. Their spirits were far more depressed by this consideration than by any other. Compared to this heavy trial all others, which could possibly arrive, seemed light and undeserving of careful or anxious deprecation; but for this one chastisement, they humbled themselves before God daily with tears and supplications. Nevertheless they sorrowed not as without hope, and they did not murmur. They knew that their prayers were poured out before a Father of mercies, who heareth always, and gives or withholds the blessing implored, with a wisdom that cannot err, and with a mysterious love.

Therefore they were enabled to preserve a calm and resigned aspect before the village, and before their household, though plain Peter and the good maidens were not to be deceived as to their silent sufferings; for master did not notice the flowers and birds in the garden so[Pg 70] much now, and walked up and down thinking, instead of talking pleasant; and mistress had not looked after her fruit-preserves and her home-made wines this year with the heart she used to do; and, worst sign of all, the dinner was often carried away hardly touched by either. The apprehensions of Noble as to the progress of disaffection to the royal cause proved but too well founded. The private agents and emissaries of the Parliament party wrought underhand to persuade the people, that, by the commission of array, a great part of the estates of all substantial yeomen and freeholders would be taken from them, alleging, that some lords had said that “twenty pounds by the year was enough for every peasant to live on;” and they further said, that all the meaner and poorer sort of people were appointed by the same commission to pay a tax of one day’s labour in every week to the King. These reports, however little deserving of credit, were received by the more ignorant with implicit belief, and circulated by the interested and designing with most persevering activity. The people were thus taught[Pg 71] that, if they did not adhere to the Parliament, and submit to the ordinance for the militia, they would soon be no better than slaves to the lords, and the victims of a most cruel oppression.

The ignorance and credulity of the vulgar were by these arts widely and successfully imposed upon; but the population of Cheddar was preserved from these corrupting falsehoods by the prudence of Noble. He early obtained a copy of the commission of array, which was written in Latin, and having translated it with fidelity, distributed copies from house to house. The word of the good parson was ever held in reverence by his flock, therefore, with few exceptions, and those confined to the worst characters in the village, his account of the matter was received as true; while in many other places the crafty supporters of the levelling party, taking advantage of the commissions being in Latin, translated it into what English they pleased, and abused simple folk in the manner related.

While the Marquis of Hertford maintained himself at Wells all things continued quiet at[Pg 72] Cheddar; but as Noble had foreseen, there was soon a very powerful party brought against him, and he was compelled to retire, before the increasing forces and the active officers of the Parliament, to Sherborne, in Dorsetshire.

Master Daws, the artful and the covetous enemy of Noble, who had been already baffled in his endeavour to drag him before a committee, and whose eyes were steadily fixed upon the living of Cheddar, had not been inactive while the Royalists lay at Wells.

He had, it is true, seldom ventured from home for fear his precious carcass might receive some weighty mark of the wrath or merriment of a royal trooper, though he might have gone to and fro in his clerical garb as safe as an innocent child: but conscience made a coward of him; for he had employed the period of his confinement to his house in preparing certain lying and inflammatory papers, which, through the agency of a near relation, who was a scrivener’s clerk at Bristol, he procured to be secretly printed in that city. These papers were of the most indecent and outrageous nature,[Pg 73] directed chiefly against prelacy, and all supporters of the church of England and the episcopal form of government. Now, this scrivener’s clerk, though he knew and despised the hypocrisy of Master Daws, and laughed at all religion, whether real or pretended, lent himself as a most ready agent in this charitable work. “There are diversities of gifts, my dear Matty,” said his crafty uncle Daws in the letter which accompanied his manuscript libels,—“diversities of gifts, but the same spirit:—thou hast a lively wit, and a playful hand with thy pencil; prithee put a little device of some facetious kind at the head of each of these papers,—such an one as may be easily struck off in a wood-cut of the kind, which the profane Italians call caricature: but what need I say more? Thou knowest what I would have:—see thou do it. I wish to have them done before Cheddar fair, which is held, thou knowest, at the latter end of September. They are a bigoted, base, priest-ridden herd of swine in that parish, and as blind as the moles and the bats:—we must let in a little light on them:—see thou do it broadly.”

[Pg 74]

The sharp-visaged, pale-faced nephew grinned as he read his worthy uncle’s epistle, and secretly resolved at once to gratify the mean desire expressed in it, and to amuse himself, at his uncle’s expense, when it was too late for him to make any alteration should he detect it. Of the ungainly figure, and the hideous features of his uncle, he had caricatures without number; and as they were so strongly marked, that the rudest engraver of a wooden block could not fail to copy them faithfully, he determined that the long visage of Daws himself should find a place in his performance.

The fair-day of Cheddar was that one day in the year which was always most trying to Noble. All the other holydays were home festivals, and were kept by the villagers among themselves, being seldom intruded on by strangers; but the annual fair always brought with it a herd of idle vagabonds from Bristol, and other towns within a convenient distance, and seldom terminated without many profligate, disgusting scenes, or an open brawl. The state of public affairs, and the presence of a Puritan[Pg 75] force in Somersetshire, had such an effect on the fairs throughout the county this autumn, that they were in general but thinly attended, and little or no business was done among the farmers and dealers, by whom they were commonly frequented.

Nevertheless, fairs were too important in the social economy to the convenience of the people to be wholly suspended. Therefore, on the appointed morning, early in September, a pleasant peal of five bells (not as yet silenced by force or law) gave due notice from the tower of Cheddar church that the day of fairings and gilt gingerbread had arrived; but although a certain quantity of booths had been erected, only one, and that but scantily supplied, was set apart for the profane display of those glittering temptations. Among the farm servants standing for hire, there were no stout young carters with their whips, no hale shepherds with their crooks and green sprigs in their hats; and though there was no lack of maids, yet, as they crowded together, they looked lonesome and sad, and their bonny brown hair was not tied[Pg 76] up with ribands. The few children present were held fast by the hand, and led by their parents to see the common purchases made for the household; but even in these matters the traffic was dull. There were, indeed, a few cattle; a few pens of sheep; some piles of Cheddar and other Somersetshire cheese; a store of salted meats; one stall with fair garnishes of pewter for the cupboard; another with wooden bowls, and trenchers, and vessels for the dairy; and one great one, at which groceries, cloths, linens, and articles of hardware, were promiscuously set forth, and where the neighbouring housewives were wont to lay in their store of useful necessaries for the coming year. But now it was so uncertain what a day might bring forth, that not many cared to make their annual outlay.

It might be supposed, that, in such unsettled times, mountebanks, tumblers, and conjurers could hardly reckon on a sufficient harvest of pence to find them in beer and shoe leather; but some of them still ventured their exhibitions, and with a ready wit practised boldly,[Pg 77] wherever they came, upon the popular prejudices of the hour, and lent themselves to the crafty suggestions of the designing, who well knew that the vulgar mind may be artfully seduced to join in the ridicule of those very persons and things, which, in its better moments, it has respected.

Now the nephew of Daws had been a most willing and active agent in forwarding the objects of his uncle; for he had not only procured his libellous papers to be printed, but he had provided them each with a caricature engraving on wood; and he had, in like manner, caused certain ribald songs to be headed for distribution at Cheddar fair; so that they who could not read the slanders and calumnies contained in the printed matter might see them pictured to their senses. Nor did he stop here; but he procured a base fellow, the son of a drunken saddler, who was a noted posture master in Bristol, to carry these papers and prints to Cheddar on the fair day, and to commend them to the people. This knave, taking with him a merriman and a fire-eater to assist him[Pg 78] in attracting a crowd, repaired thither, and about noon began his operations on a scaffold near the market cross. They had been followed by a rabble of disorderly persons, among whom the report of some fun at Cheddar fair had been already spread by the rogues engaged on the occasion.

Master Daws, who had been advised by his nephew of the preparations that were made for bringing the church and its ministers into contempt before the population of Cheddar, walked to the village at an early hour in company with his nephew, under the pretence of buying a hundred weight of cheese and a salted mutton; and, though the day was fine, he took care to appear in the blue Geneva cloak, which was commonly worn by the Puritan divines. Having engaged an upper room in a public house facing the market place, he had no sooner stalked through the vacant crowd, and made his purchases, than he retired to feast his malignant envy from the window of this chamber.

The sound of the pipe and tabor, and the nasal tones of Master Merriman, soon gathered[Pg 79] all the idle folk in the fair round the mountebank’s scaffold. The fool began with their favourite egg-dance; and they stood with gaping mouths to see him hop about on one leg, and then, being blindfolded, dance backwards and forwards between the eggs without touching one of them: their mouths gaped yet wider, as this performer was succeeded by the fire-eater, who, after commencing by the trick of drawing forth from his mouth yard after yard of ribands, as if his stomach had been a riband loom, put a bundle of lighted matches into his mouth, and blew the smoke of the sulphur through his nostrils. Last came the posture-master, whose art consisted in making all sorts of uncouth faces, and exhibiting in a natural but shocking manner every species of deformity and dislocation. Now he showed a huge rising of his left shoulder; now shifted the deformity into the other; now represented a humpback; accompanying these changes of his figure with sundry comical contortions of countenance, to which the crowd responded in roars of laughter. Having thus got them into good humour for[Pg 80] his purpose, he went on to imitate the cries and voices of sundry animals and birds; the crow of the cock, the gabble of the geese, the gobble of the turkey, the quaak of the duck, the squeak of the sucking pig, the bleat of the lamb, the grunt of the old sow, and the braying of the ass. The crowd was on the broad grin while he went through these imitations. He now therefore disappeared for a minute, leaving the merriman to amuse them, by way of interlude, with a jocular dance, and returned in robes made of coarse materials to imitate those of a bishop. His figure was stuffed out to Falstaff-like proportions; his hands were crossed with due gravity; he had plumpers in his cheeks; and he forthwith began to intone an anthem with burlesque solemnity. The words were in mockery of the coronation anthem; and the petition for the growth of the King’s beard, and the shaving thereof, was delivered in all those varieties of note which he had before given when mimicking the animals of the farm-yard. He thus excited the mirth of the rabble vastly. He closed this mischievous performance by a[Pg 81] comic song about tithes; and, after imitating the squeak of a sucking pig, and the clack of a hen, he produced upon the stage, by sleight of hand, as if from his paunch, a basket filled with curious samples of the small tithe, in which the tenth egg was not forgotten. His place was now taken by the mountebank, who professed to be appointed grand physician to the state, and purifier of the church. The fool stood by his side making all the uncouth faces which he could think of, taken, it must be confessed, most chiefly from the sour kill-joys of the time; and holding a large bundle of printed papers, each headed by a wood-cut, he distributed them down among the people for due consideration of pence and farthings dropped into his cap. These papers, though ridiculous devices were prefixed to them, contained a venom of no laughable matter, and were eagerly bought up.

The nephew of old Daws had been at little pains to rack his invention for the subject of these curious cuts. On one, he had engraven the figure of a fox, vested in canonicals, with a crosier in his hand and a mitre on his head,[Pg 82] hanging upon a tree, with a flock of geese and other fowl beneath chattering at him; on another, he had represented a fox in chains, with his right paw on a bag of money, and a monkey at prayers by his side, trying to steal it away. On the next was given the figure of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, bearing a close resemblance to his own uncle, puffing a large fire with a pair of bellows, on which was inscribed “Groans and sighs;” while above was depicted an owl, with a wolf and a lamb joining in prayers. By a self-deception not uncommon, Master Daws had not the slightest suspicion that the said wolf bore any likeness to himself, and, to the secret diversion of his nephew, he gave a most ghastly smile of approval as he looked over the rude caricatures, three of which we have described. The time was now come for directing the wayward crowd to a stronger expression of their contempt for the church than laughter. Accordingly, the nephew of Daws descended among them, and proposed that they should burn a bishop’s effigy before the parson’s house. While the effigy was preparing, the people stood[Pg 83] in groups reading the papers; and sundry charitable suggestions were made by the baser among them. “Let’s get into his cellar,” said one, “and drink a little of the sacrament wine.”—“Let’s lay hold of the church plate,” said another:—“Or give the parson a ride on old Bruin here,” was the cruel proposal of a third, pointing to a huge bear in a string, led by a wandering showman. All things were soon ready; and, led by the posture master in front, and guided behind by the mischievous nephew of Master Daws, off the rabble moved, noisy and half drunk, and ready for all evil. They had no sooner reached the yew-tree in the churchyard, and were advancing towards the wicket, than out rushed an old beggar, stumping on his wooden leg, followed by plain Peter and two more old labourers, and immediately behind them, as if in pursuit, a fine young bull. The old beggar, who was no other than the worn-out veteran before mentioned, shouted, “Mad bull!” at the top of his voice, with an earnestness and passion that made him at once believed; and the crowd fled, tumbling over each other, as[Pg 84] they ran, in inextricable confusion: nor were they allowed time to detect the deception practised on them; for the old soldier and plain Peter slipping behind the frightened beast, and goading him forward, he performed his friendly office as well as the maddest of all bulls, and very effectually dispersed the mob, and defeated their base and cruel intentions for that day. Master Daws, who had from his post of observation at the window witnessed the scenes in the market-place with the most malignant satisfaction, as soon as the crowd marched off towards the vicarage with the effigy, and he saw the coast clear, could not repress his curiosity, and, stealing down, followed afar off to watch their operations. In the luckless moment of their panic and flight, he was so terrified and puzzled, that he could not regain the house, but ran with the crowd, and was thrown down by a pig; nor was this the worst, for it so happened that a man, leading a monkey, fell at the same moment, and jocko flew upon Daws and bit his right ear, till he screamed for agony: beyond this, however, and the tearing of his[Pg 85] clothes, he sustained no injury. A worse fate waited the posture-master, the bear being infuriated at the hubbub, and having broken away from his master, seized him fiercely, and embraced him in a hug so fatal, that it produced contortions of countenance and a dislocation of bones very different from those he had so lately been exhibiting, and left him a cripple for life. The warning of his master’s danger had been communicated to plain Peter, that very morning, by the grateful old soldier, who had come to that fair with no other intention than rendering this service, he having heard a whisper of the intended doings in a tap at Bristol. It so chanced that old Noble was confined to the house by a sprain of the ankle, and his mistress was not well; so Peter kept from them all mention of these fears. The stratagem he adopted for putting the mob to flight was suggested by the old soldier, and cheerfully aided by a neighbouring farmer and two of his servants. Thus was the worthy parson protected in peace, and kept safe from the strife of tongues and the violence of a base rabble, throughout a day that[Pg 86] was very threatening: unconscious himself how Daws had been undermining him, he had passed it in a frame of mind more than usually composed.

Daws and his nephew continued their retreat without staying to pay their reckoning at the public-house. The greater part of the crowd, finding themselves on the road to Axbridge, proceeded there, to make up for their disappointment at Cheddar by a riot at that place instead. So few, indeed, returned, after they had got beyond the reach of danger, to find out the truth of it, and they squabbled so much among themselves, that Master Blount and the villagers were able to prevent further disturbance at that time. Before evening all the strange rabble departed; and the sun set on Cheddar as tranquilly as in happier times.

[Pg 87]


It’s a hard fate to be slain for what a man should never
willingly fight.

The prediction of Juxon concerning the city of Coventry proved correct:—not only was the disposition of the inhabitants such as he described, but the Parliamentarians, whose vigilance and activity were very great, sent forward a small force to assist the citizens in defending the place,—and the King had the mortification of summoning it in vain. The gates were shut against him, and the burghers sent out a message of defiance. His Majesty came to Stoneleigh Abbey the same afternoon, much dejected; and being there joined by several of the most considerable gentlemen in the county, he decided on raising his standard at Nottingham, which was accordingly done on the 25th of[Pg 88] August; but he found that place much emptier than he expected, and learned that the army of the Parliament, composed of horse, foot, and cannon, was at Northampton. His own few cannon and stores were, as yet, at quarters in York; and the levy gathered immediately under his own person was at this moment very inconsiderable. Among the cavaliers, who had brought their contingent of horsemen for the royal service, was Sir Charles Lambert, with young Arthur Heywood and a small troop of stout yeomanry. The age of boyhood is so impressible, that the mind readily admits an omen for good or for evil; and Arthur felt, and was angry with himself for feeling, uncomfortable, because the very first evening of its erection the royal standard was blown down by a violent storm of wind and rain.

A short time was now consumed in messages between the King and the two Houses; but on neither side were the negotiations conducted in a spirit which could issue otherwise than they did. The declaration of the two Houses to the kingdom was a trumpet note that gave[Pg 89] no uncertain sound, and it was answered to by the King with a princely courage.

He now removed to Derby; and having clear information that Shrewsbury was at his devotion, continued his march to that town; and, collecting all his forces in that strong and pleasant situation, was enabled to organise them for taking the field in security, and to keep up his correspondence with Worcester,—a city zealously affected to the royal cause. Soon after the King left Nottingham, the Earl of Essex marched from Northampton with his whole army towards Worcester, and, as he traversed Warwickshire, placed garrisons of foot both in Warwick and Coventry. It so chanced that, by these dispositions, the regiment to which Cuthbert belonged was stationed for a time at Warwick.

Sir Oliver Heywood had been disappointed of his wishes by an attack of gout so very severe, that it quite disabled him; and although he had contrived to present himself before the King at Stoneleigh, the effort had thrown him back, and reduced him to the helplessness of a cripple.[Pg 90] He was therefore compelled to forego his intention of repairing to Nottingham and joining the levy. Under these circumstances he was willing to remain shut up at Milverton House, and to abide all chances and all consequences which might follow on that course, when the army of the Parliament should enter the county. But Juxon warmly represented to him the great imprudence of this unnecessary risk, and advised him to seek a temporary residence in a more protected situation. With a wise forethought he recommended Oxford; observing that it was at present occupied for the King; and, if his Majesty could make head against his enemies, would undoubtedly become the royal quarters, in the event of his not being fortunate enough to recover the capital before winter. It was true that in the interval which must pass before the King could take the field, and advance in strength, the University of Oxford might be exposed to a visit of some division of the Parliamentary forces; but it was not probable that private families lodging there without show would be seriously molested:—whereas[Pg 91] it was almost certain that the country mansion of any Royalist of like consideration with himself would be subjected to a visitation of a very insulting and rude nature. Sir Oliver yielded to this sensible advice; and as soon as the King quitted Nottingham he departed from Milverton. Jane and Sophia Lambert accompanied Katharine Heywood to Oxford; and Juxon having escorted the party on their first day’s journey, took leave of them with the best composure which he could, and, without betraying the depth and tenderness of his solicitude by one look or tone of dejection, returned with all speed to Old Beech.

It was near midnight when he approached the village; and by the obscure light of a moonless but clear sky he discerned in the lane before him two men moving about at a point where another road crossed it. As a gate on his right hand opened into a large field, he dismounted, and leading in his horse, fastened it to a hedge-stake, and stole forward softly on foot by a pathway, leading to the point where the roads crossed. Just as he reached the spot, a disturbed[Pg 92] bird nestled in a bush. “Who goes there?” said a gruff voice. Juxon remained perfectly still, and saw two sentinels, one a pikeman, and the other a musketeer, who now ceased their pacing, and stood halted, fronting the lane end.

“It is nobody,” replied the comrade of the soldier who had given the challenge:—“this is the second time thou hast been fooled to-night.”

“Thou art the fool, deaf dunderhead, and wouldst not hear a troop of horse till they were down on thee:—what dost thou know of the wars, bumpkin? I tell thee I heard a horse at the far end of yon lane as clear as I hear thy clapper; and there may be royal troopers closer than we think for. Dost mind? when I fire, take to thy scrapers, and join the post at the barn.”

“Well, call me bumpkin as you will, you may be right: I warn’t thinking about horses, nor listening, you see. Your ears are sharp enough for both;—a plague o’ the Parliament folk;—I was thinking about them pretty bodies that wear white caps and yellow kerchiefs. I was to ha’ been wed, man, at Michaelmas,[Pg 93] but for all this to do about the litia: what’s the King done to me?”

“Why you talk like a fool: hold your tongue.—Who goes there?” again roared the old musketeer,—but Juxon kept a breathless silence.—“You talk like a fool. Pay is pay, and victuals victuals, and one side as good as t’ other; and ours will be the best for booty, man.”

“Booty! what’s that?”

“Why you must be a queer simpleton not to know: why money, and plate, and rich gear, and wines, and grub of all sorts; all’s fish that comes to net, man: that’s the best part of a soldier’s life.”

“Why what’s he got to do with them things, if they beynt his’n?”

“Beynt his’n!” said the old soldier with a tone of contempt: “why make ’em his’n.”

“Why that’s what I call plain picking and stealing; and it’s taught in the Catechiz that you musn’t do that.”

“Ay, that’s all very well for brats at a parson’s village school; but that wo’n’t do for[Pg 94] them that know better. Besides, the Catechiz, as you call it, is no good now; it’s all wrong foundation.”

“Well, while I ha’ got hands to get my living I don’t want gold nor silver: I never heard one of your rich folk whistle in all my born days; and as for your madams, why my Madge has a laughing face that shames them. Dang it, I wish I were back with her, and you might soldier and the Roundheads might preach long enough afore I’d come among ye.”

“Why I don’t say any thing for those fellows that pray and preach; and sometimes I am afraid they’ll stand between a good soldier and his right, and wo’n’t let him have his fair share of plunder. There’s that grave, demure leeftenant they call Cuthbert drove me and two more out of the parson’s orchard this very afternoon before I mounted duty. He looks too sharp after other people’s business, that godly rogue; and if ever I catch him tripping in a thick smoke, I’ll give him a rap on the sconce shall make him sleep sound enough ever after.”

[Pg 95]

“Thou shalt never hurt a hair of his head while I am by,” said the rustic soldier: “he’s a kind, fair-spoken gentleman as ever stepped in shoe-leather.”

“Tut! you’re both of a kidney—both fools alike—I’ve been throwing away my breath on. Keep your own path, and keep moving,” said the musketeer, and resumed his own cross beat in a surly silence.

Warned by this adventure that Parliament soldiers were quartered for the night in Old Beech, and by the mention of Cuthbert’s name, and the anecdote connected with it, that he had a friend among the hostile party, who would, as far as possible, protect his interests, Juxon instantly resolved to pass round by another road, and put up at a detached farm-house a quarter of a mile to the north of the village, where he could gain more accurate information of their doings, and judge how to act in the morning. He was turning about quietly, to steal off and get back to his horse, when his attention was again arrested by the musketeer[Pg 96] saying suddenly and bluntly to the pikeman, “You want to be off home, I’m sure.”

“You’re right enough there, and no conjurer:—I told you so.”

“I mean, you want to desert.”

“No, I doant.”

“Yes you do, and you’ll run off when the fighting comes.”

“No I wunt: there’s no man shall ever say that Bob Hazel gave back in a fair stand-up fight.”

“Well, then, you’ll change your side as soon as we come near the King’s troops, and fight on the other.”

“Why for the matter o’ that, I didn’t choose my side, to be sure, any more than if I had been called by him that won the toss at football; but now I’m in for it, I’ll fight it out with the best of them on my own side.”

“That’s more than I’ll say,” muttered the musketeer: “I’m always for the uppermost cause and the best paymaster: after the first battle we shall see which has the good luck.”

They were again silent, and Juxon moved[Pg 97] away, and regaining his horse led it round by paths and gaps well known to himself to the farm-house above mentioned. He found the farmer out and on the watch, and his family had not gone to bed. The information which he here obtained of the conduct of the Parliament troops in Old Beech was very satisfactory. They had been peaceable and orderly, and had done violence to no man. The commanding officer, it seems, had taken up his quarters at the rectory, and a safeguard was appointed to protect the church from injury. It was reported that they would march forwards the next morning, or in the course of the day. But although the Colonel had maintained a strict control over the soldiers during the day, the farmer was naturally afraid that in the course of the night some evil-disposed marauders might visit the farm, and therefore all his people kept watch. Juxon’s horse was instantly put up,—and before the large fire in the farmer’s kitchen a homely but welcome supper was cheerfully provided. Although fatigued, he was far too restless to sleep; and[Pg 98] when he had refreshed himself with a little food and a cup of strong ale he went out again, and walked towards the village. In the clear gloom of night it presented the fine outline of a picturesque cluster of habitations, of which the principal feature was the small church, with its ancient tower, looking black and solemn. To the surprize, however, of Juxon, a light, the only one to be seen in all the dark mass of buildings, gleamed steadily from the window of his chancel. The sight attracted him; and under the impulse of curiosity, to see what the guard might be doing, he crossed the intervening fields, leaped over the wall of the churchyard, and gained the window without seeing or being noticed by any one. A lamp in the chancel had been lighted, and threw around an illumination, faint indeed, but sufficient to show very distinctly to the eyes of Juxon the reverend figure within. Directly opposite the window, with his face so slightly averted towards a monument on the same side, that not a feature nor an expression was lost, stood a tall grave person in a clerical habit.[Pg 99] His features were noble and sad: his eyes were very bright, but severe withal; and his complexion was pale as marble. He wore a small skullcap of black velvet; and beneath it his hair fell, on either side, in a large wavy mass, and lay upon the broad white collar that turned over his narrow and close-buttoned cassock. His upper lip was shaded with a small quantity of the blackest hair; a tuft of the same filled the indenture beneath his under lip, and thus the pallor of his long thin cheeks, and of his high forehead, appeared more deadly. His pale hand, which held a closed volume, was pressed against his bosom; and he stood so very motionless, and so deeply absorbed in meditation, that a less healthy fancy than that of Juxon would have deemed him some ghostly visitant, permitted, during the witching hour of night, to haunt that holy place. The slow heavy tread of a man in arms, turning the distant corner of the church, warned Juxon to conceal himself; and passing quickly round under the altar window to the other side, he came to the small door of the chancel. It stood ajar; and pushing[Pg 100] it gently, he entered, and again closing it, found himself in the presence of the venerable stranger, and alone with him. He turned at the sound of Juxon’s entrance without abruptness or discomposure; but as the light showed him an unknown face, and an athletic form in garments dusty with travel, he demanded of him in a tone of authority how he had come thither, and what was his business.

“But yesterday,” said Juxon, “I might have asked that question of thee: but a day has brought forth a sudden change; and the shepherd must enter his own fold by stealth, or with the permission of others.”

“I understand thee. Thou art the minister of this place: thou hast nothing to fear: I have watched in thy sanctuary, and no one has violated or defiled it. You may go home to your own chamber in peace: it was allotted as my quarter by the commander of this band, but I resolved to keep a vigil here, and would continue it alone. Go, and God speed thee. We shall march in the morning; and I pray that you may be kept safe in all future visitations.”

[Pg 101]

“March!—have I heard aright? Does such an one as you march in the ranks of rebels? Does a minister of the Gospel preach war, and that against the Lord’s anointed?”

“Against the person of the King we do not war: we fight against his false and dangerous friends. The sword of the Lord is with us, and it must go through the land; but we march as mourners to the field of blood. Witness these walls that have heard my groanings, yon tomb that has been watered by my tears. In that tomb lie the ashes of my grandfather, who was the first Protestant of his race. The Reformation, begun by the godly men of that day, has never yet been completed: that work remains for us.”

“Miserable delusion!” cried Juxon aloud; “miserable delusion! Is it by kindling and diffusing the false fire of fanaticism? is it in arms? is it by a path of blood that you move? Then is your work a work of evil, and your light darkness.”

“So called they the work and the light of our forefathers, when they led them forth, and[Pg 102] burned them at the stake. You have a zeal for the church, but not according to knowledge. I have heard of you from your friend Cuthbert Noble.”

“Call him not friend of mine: give to all things their right names. He that stands in arms against his king is a traitor; and if he had lain in my heart’s core, I would pluck him out, and cast him from me.”

At this moment, a man in arms entered the small door of the chancel, and taking off his steel cap, advanced towards Juxon, and put forth his hand:—it was Cuthbert Noble. He was much altered in his appearance: his countenance was severe and sad, but resolute withal; and his corslet, with the broad buff girdle beneath, had produced a change in his aspect and bearing incredible to the mind of Juxon, if he had not witnessed it with his eyes.

“Do you refuse my hand? do you turn away from me, Juxon? I have not deserved this at your hands,” said Cuthbert, still stretching forth his hand. Juxon turned his face and looked steadfastly upon him.

[Pg 103]

“Cuthbert,” said he with a slow, grave utterance, “I and your revered father are upon the same side, and we fill the same sacred office. Even now, perhaps, his fold is broken into by some furious zealots, who will not show the same lingering compunction which is now, for a moment, sparing mine. No, Cuthbert, the hand that grasps a sword, and wields it against my king, shall never more be clasped with friendliness by me.”

Cuthbert’s hand fell down, and his knees shook, and his whole frame trembled with the strength of his emotion.

“Dare to repent,” added Juxon, observing the internal struggle,—“dare to repent. Here in the house of God, and before the altar of God, lay down the arms of rebellion, and go home to comfort, and, if possible, to protect, your father and mother.”

What effect this appeal might have had upon Cuthbert had he been alone with Juxon, and subjected to all the strength with which it would have been urged home upon him, we cannot say; for it was no sooner spoken, than the[Pg 104] Puritan chaplain fell upon his knees, and poured forth a prayer for the cause of the Parliament, which, by its solemn tone and intense fervency, commanded the silent and breathless attention of both. It was evident that this petitioner, with an enthusiasm that has been felt perhaps in common by some of every creed and party under the cope of heaven, identified the particular cause which he himself had espoused with that of truth and of God. Before he had uttered the first brief sentence of adoration, Cuthbert had fallen down in a lowly posture of worship,—and his spirit was soon carried by his leader in prayer whithersoever he would.

Juxon leaned his head against the wall where he stood, and kept his eyes fixed on them. He had before him one of those rarely endowed beings on whom gifts without measure had been poured:—for a quarter of an hour he listened, with a painful and solemn interest, to a flow of real eloquence. The petitions touched in succession every point at issue. They justified, as by divine command, the appeal to arms, and proclaimed the end thereof to be reformation[Pg 105] and peace. They recognised the sacredness of the King’s anointed head; and they ended in a prophetic anticipation of the days of millennial glory, and the universal reign of a manifested God.

In the course of the prayer he had not forgotten to pray for all mankind, and especially for all those enemies who now stood opposed to them in the present contest, and again in a yet more especial manner for the near and dear relations, whose wishes and entreaties they were now called on to resist, and whose hearts they might now afflict. Painting this resistance most truly, as the highest order of self-denial, he urged it as a sacred duty, and a sacrifice well pleasing to the Lord.

Juxon saw by the expression of Cuthbert’s mouth the new and stronger resolutions he was making;—nor did it surprise him to see that, when they rose together at the conclusion of this fervent prayer, the chaplain took Cuthbert by the hand, that was passively yielded, and led him forth from the church without either of them addressing one word to himself.[Pg 106] They looked at him, indeed, with seriousness, if not with compassion, and they moved their lips, but the whispered ejaculations of their hearts had no voice; and their departing footsteps were the only sounds that broke the silence of the place and of the hour.

[Pg 107]


Thy friend put in thy bosom: wear his eyes,
Still in thy heart, that he may see what’s there.

By the care of Juxon, who had written to an old college servant of Christ-church, a lodging was provided for Sir Oliver Heywood and his party in a retired street at Oxford; and, having accomplished their journey without any accident, they took possession of their new abode early in September. The house though small was clean, and by no means incommodious; but a part of it was already in the occupation of another lodger. However, he was a quiet man, and was employed all day in his labours, as a painter of coloured glass, having been engaged to execute the windows of a chapel then building at University College. Moreover, he was a Fleming, and spoke English so imperfectly that he[Pg 108] could not understand what was said to him, except on the most common and necessary matters. But Sir Oliver, who suffered great pain with his gout, and was really mortified at not being able to join the army, began to show a fretfulness and discontent at his position, very trying to Katharine and all about him. He was perpetually finding fault with every thing, and every person; and his anger at the language of alarm and doubt, which he found prevalent at Oxford, knew no bounds. The secret of all this peevishness lay deeper than his gouty sufferings; for, upon the very day of his arrival, he read in “The Perfect Diurnall” that two squadrons of horse under Sergeant Major Francis Heywood had joined the head quarters of the Lord Say, who was the Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, and stoutly opposed to the King. Nor was this the simple announcement; but the news went on to say, that these horsemen were well accoutred, and disciplined very exactly under the training of Sergeant Major Heywood, a soldier of excellent promise, who had served under the great[Pg 109] Gustavus, and was nearly allied to Sir Oliver Heywood of Milverton House, Warwickshire. The old gentleman cursed and swore heartily when he first read this aloud to Katharine and the Lamberts, but he never afterwards named the subject or Francis; however, the thought lay rankling under every expression of anger which daily events drew forth.

The cloisters and the groves on the banks of the Isis were no longer the solemn and silent haunts of peaceful, meditative scholars,—they now echoed to the harsh beating of drums; and the young students, instead of pacing slowly in their black academic habits, were dressed in the garb of soldiers, with blue scarfs suspended across their bodies from the shoulder, and with pikes in their hands. At a convocation held in July the University had, with one consent, voted his Majesty all the public money which they had in hand; and, besides this, several of the colleges, as well as private persons, sent in their plate and their ready money also. This act of the convocation, however, was immediately pronounced null and void by Parliament; and[Pg 110] any such actions were forbidden for the future. This proclamation pronounced those criminal who had been concerned in advising this diversion of the treasures of their colleges, and commanded each society to secure its own. It also ordered that the Dean of Christ-church, the President of Magdalen, and the Provost of Queen’s, who had been most active in this matter, should be seized and brought to the bar of the House to answer for their conduct. But this could not be accomplished, because the High Sheriff and the Mayor of Oxford, acting upon the commission of array, had called out the train bands of the city, and the scholars had taken arms. To support this show of resistance, Sir John Biron marched to Oxford, and took possession of it for the King. Sir John had with him about five hundred horse; and thus he secured the contributions for the King’s service, and was enabled, though compelled soon afterwards to retire from the city, to carry a considerable portion of it safe to the royal quarters. It was during the period that Oxford was thus held for the King that Sir[Pg 111] Oliver and his family came there to reside. They were visited by several of the stanch Royalists and their ladies: these visitors consisted for the most part of the troubled and alarmed clergy, who were connected by office with the University. To some of their wives it was a delight to have a new family into whose ears they might pour all the bitter scandals against the Nonconformists, and others of the Parliament party, which they eagerly collected and minutely detailed. Nor was there any deficiency in spirit; for some of them went so far as to declare that, happen what might, nothing should make them stir from their own houses; that their husbands might run away if they pleased; but no canting Roundheads should ever eject them from their own arm chairs; and generally concluded by observing, that if their husbands were not such a poor set of creatures, they would drive the odious Lord Say out of the county; and that, as it was, there was no chance whatever of his getting into the city. Then they reckoned upon their fingers,—the five hundred men of[Pg 112] Sir John Biron, and the four hundred pikes of the train bands, and the two hundred scholars with pikes, and the fifty doctors and masters of arts that had horses and pistols, and spirit to use them. Mrs. Veal, the lady of a doctor of Christ-church, was the most eloquent in these invectives, and the most exact in these calculations; and, to her honour be it spoken, she kept her word; and when the day of trial came, and Oxford was abandoned to the Parliamentarians, she would not accompany her husband, but remained obstinately fixed in her own arm-chair, and most successfully defended her house with a scolding tongue.

Amid all these bitter and uncongenial elements Katharine Heywood was perplexed and troubled, and found little rest for her spirit, save that which passeth man’s understanding, and that which she found in the affectionate friendship of Jane Lambert. Nothing more cruelly jarred her feelings than the language in which, by common consent, almost all around her seemed to talk of the Parliamentarians. Her own loyalty was firm and pure, but it was[Pg 113] of an exalted character; and under no circumstances could it have stooped to so low a hatred of the persons, or to so mean an opinion of the motives, of the King’s enemies, as that generally entertained and daily expressed before her. She did every thing which it was in the power of a daughter to do for the comfort and tranquillity of her father, but her efforts were not very successful.

As soon as it became known that the Lord Say was advancing upon Oxford with superior forces, and that Sir John Biron was about to retire upon Worcester, nothing would pacify Sir Oliver but an endeavour to accompany that movement. However, the means of conveyance were not to be obtained for money, and he was compelled to remain where he was.

On the morning of the 14th of September the greatest possible consternation prevailed in the city; and early in the forenoon a strong body of horse, headed by the Lord Say, marched into the University. His first act was to cause all the colleges to be strictly searched for plate and arms, and to secure whatever plate had not[Pg 114] been hidden, or despatched under escort of Sir John Biron. He also broke into their treasuries, but found little in them, save in that of Christ-church, where, after a day’s labour, and breaking through a plastered wall to an iron chest, he discovered in the bottom thereof a groat and a halter;—a pleasant surprize for a man of his morose temper, and provided for him by the wit of the doctor’s lady who has been mentioned above.

It was not till late in the evening of the 14th that Sir Oliver and his daughter got any distinct information of what was passing. Their street was retired; not a soldier entered it; nor a sound, save that of trumpets from the market-place, reached their anxious ears. The worthy knight forbade Katharine and Jane to leave the house, and old Philip the butler was not at all inclined to volunteer any inquiries. But the Flemish painter had been absent from a very early hour; on which account Sir Oliver charitably pronounced him a Dutch Presbyterian rascal, who had been acting as a spy for the Roundheads. It was in vain that Katharine[Pg 115] observed that he was an artist employed by a college upon its chapel windows: the knight pronounced him a foreign scoundrel, gone to join in the plunder. Towards evening the painter returned, and came to their apartment, to tell them in his broken stammering language, with tears in his eyes, that a fine young officer, who spoke Dutch, had saved all his painted glass from being broken, and had put a safeguard at all the chapels.

The officer of whom the painter related this was no other than Francis Heywood. The throb of Katharine’s heart told her so at the instant, but it was confirmed to her afterwards.

It was the habit of Katharine and Jane to walk daily in the afternoon in the fair meadows on the banks of the river to which they had quick and easy access, from the retired quarter in which they dwelt, without passing through any of the more public streets of the town.

Their friendship had strengthened under all the adverse and anxious circumstances of the times; and the piety of Jane had become so deepened by her constant intercourse with[Pg 116] Katharine that their spirits held communion together in these walks, whether they conversed or were silent.

The arrival of the Parliamentarians put a stop to these rambles for the first few days after they took possession of the city; but, by the strictness of their discipline and the quietness of their behaviour towards the citizens of the place, confidence was soon restored, and the people went about the streets and ventured into the neighbouring fields as usual.

It was on a fine glowing afternoon, about a week after the entrance of Lord Say’s horsemen, that Katharine and Jane went forth together to their favourite meadow. The sun had such power, that, instead of keeping the open and more public path, they confined themselves to a short and shady promenade beneath a few stately trees on the margin of the river. No one chanced to be in the meadow but themselves: the glorious hues of autumn were already beginning to tinge the tops of trees, and the hedge rows were blushing with bird fruit. In the distance, too, on the low hills, the naked and[Pg 117] yellow stubble of the corn fields told that the harvest was ended, and the season of the last fruits was come. The friends were carrying forward their hopes and fears as to the future, and were comforting themselves with the vain hope that, even yet, before the fall of the leaf, some change for the better might come.

It was rumoured that, through the Lord Falkland, who was highly considered by many of the Parliamentary leaders, and who was known to be a Royalist far too generous and right minded to wish well to despotic government, expectations of a reconciliation between the King and his Commons were yet entertained. But Katharine, though she wished not to depress her more sanguine friend, could not but fear that these rumours of peace were begotten rather of the wishes of those who uttered them than of their judgment: that too many resolute men were on horseback and in arms; and that they would assuredly draw the sword and try the issues of battle. As thus they walked together, softened by the repose and beauty of the scene around, Jane ventured upon a theme[Pg 118] which seldom or ever passed her lips. She spoke of love, and of its many crosses; but withal that better it was to love, though life were passed separated from the object of it, than not to feel so sweet an influence.

“It is true, Jane,” said Katharine mournfully, “it is most true; yet misplaced affections do greatly wear the spirit.”

“You do not mean misplaced, dear cousin, surely; but fixed hopelessly on one most worthy of our love. Such is your destiny, for Francis is a noble being. You never told me of the first growth of your attachment: how did it first spring? what moved you? did he woo you? Love, they say, does ever beget love; but yet, methinks, nothing of outward show or manliest beauty, no mere words of admiration, would have availed to fix any man firmly in a heart like yours.”

“Albeit the subject pains me, I will tell thee, Jane. Yes, he is worthy of a woman’s love. From his first youth he has been, as thou knowest well, a soldier. It was his father’s pride to see him, when but a stripling, not so[Pg 119] tall as the boy Arthur, intrusted with a standard in the day of battle. In his first field, a bullet struck him down upon his knees; still, with uplifted arms, he waved his ensign, and strove to keep his place in the close ranks, till faint with pain he fell: but, even then, he grasped the colour staff so firmly, that a stout lieutenant, who, for its safety, took it from him, was forced to bruise his boyish hands ere they would let go their sacred charge. On the morrow, as he lay upon his bloody straw in the field hospital, the great Gustavus gave him the Iron Cross of Honour, and with it a commission in his guard of horse,—rewards for this first proof of constancy.

“This, at our table, his father did relate with such a pride as doth become a parent. Francis the while coloured a little, and looked down for modesty, but said nothing. I felt hot tears upon my cheek; and when they drank his health, and I did pledge him, he saw those tears. Such was the birth of our attachment; and kind words, and gentle actions, and books, and[Pg 120] music, and many things, did feed it, till it grew to love; and then came trouble. Thou knowest well the bitter feud that blazed forth suddenly between our fathers. The quarrel was of public matters; for my father never knew nor even guessed our love. ’Tis long, long past that blissful season: let’s talk of it no more.”

“Thank you, dear Katharine,” said Jane, with swimming eyes and faltering tongue; “I feel for you. I love you so, it was but right to tell me this. You wish for silence; be it so: for the world I would not pain you.” Their conversation dropped, and they gave themselves to the grave thoughts it had called up.

It had been late in the afternoon before they came out: evening drew on; and the sun was setting in a fine autumnal sky, when they were surprised by the sound of approaching voices: as they became more distinct, Jane observed that they must proceed from some persons on the river or on the opposite bank. They went to a tree near the water, and there, concealed by the overhanging branches, they saw a small[Pg 121] boat dropping down the stream, and gliding to the very bank on which they stood. It came close, but neither of the persons in it stepped ashore: they continued talking in a foreign language, and comparing a distant outline of ground with papers which they held in their hands. Their backs were towards Katharine and Jane; but these almost immediately recognised one as the Flemish painter, who lodged in the same house with them, the other was a tall stately man in a helmet and a buff war coat, with an orange scarf depending from his right shoulder. The heart of Katharine throbbed violently. Under the disguise of a foreign tongue, she was not certain about the voice; but she thought it was that of Francis. He lifted his helmet from his head, and turned to catch the evening breeze. It was her cousin. Her cheek became deadly pale: she trembled excessively, and caught at the trunk of the tree for support. A sudden exclamation from Jane Lambert gave alarm. Francis sprang instantly to the shore, eager to quiet any fears which he[Pg 122] might innocently have caused. Nor was the surprise greater to them than to himself, when he saw Katharine Heywood and Jane Lambert before him.

[Pg 123]


My true love hath my heart, and I have his.

When the painter, who followed Francis Heywood from the boat, saw the affecting situation of the parties, and discerned clearly, at a glance, that they were not only well acquainted with each other, but apparently suffering from very deep and embarrassing emotions, he withdrew. There was a something in this meeting of Francis and Katharine, under present circumstances, so mournful, that Jane Lambert, from a sympathy with their sacred feelings, walked to a short distance from the spot, and left them together. They stood alone; they were both pale; both trembling; the greeting of the embrace, and the utterance of each other’s names, had already passed in the presence of Jane. Silence was first broken by Francis. “I[Pg 124] bless the leading of my better angel for bringing me here this evening. Oh, Katharine, how I have longed for an interview with you: that blessing is come; it is a boon of Providence; we meet again: once more I have heard your lips pronounce my name; once more I gaze upon the living form which has dwelt with me as a bright shadow; the comfort of my wanderings and toils; the cherished idol of my lonesome hours; the household image that gladdened my solitary lodging. Nay, do not seek to silence me; do not avert your eyes from me; let not displeasure cloud your glorious brow. I have loved you long, faithfully, and well. I hail this meeting as an omen of Heaven’s favour: the hour will come that I may dare ask thee of thy father without shame or fear.”

“Francis, that hour will never come; it was an unhappy hour in which we first became acquainted.”

“Oh, say not so: from that sweet hour I date a happiness that cannot die: why look so grave upon me? You cannot quench my love:—it grew as does the flower which with a[Pg 125] constancy looks ever to the sun. Thou art a sun to me; and till I am cut down by the swift scythe of war, or wither in decay, thus will it ever be.”

“Oh, Francis, who hath bewitched you? Why did you return to England? Why did you leave the green savannas of the New World, and your pure and peaceful labours, for scenes of strife and of rebellion? Away—afar—separated from me by the stormy ocean—and too painfully conscious myself that the course of our true love never could run smooth—I had a comfort in your absence. We are divided in time, was my thought—but not for ever. There is a high and distant region, where we may meet again to part no more;—but now, Francis—it is not too late—put off these arms—return to America. Here, now, let us take our last and long farewell. Return to your father, and give me back the happiness of knowing that he who loves me may be, without a crime, beloved again. Yes—I have loved you well. I have known that our union was impossible:—to honour a parent’s will is the[Pg 126] duty of a child. But hear me, Francis:—if all such obstacles were by some magic power removed,—if fortune crowned you with all those gifts of wealth and station, which so generally secure the consent of fathers and the approval of the world,—never would I accept the hand of that man, who had raised his sword against his king.”

While Katharine was delivering this earnest, fond remonstrance, with all the tenderness of a woman, but with a tone of decision towards the close at once solemn and mournful, Francis stood pale and attentive, with eyes that regarded her countenance admiringly. He remained silent for more than a minute after she had ceased from speaking, as if waiting to hear more; then coming closer to her, he took her hand, gazed on her with intense affection, and slowly answered,—

“With due deliberation of my deed, I took commission of the Parliament, and swore the oath prescribed; and I will keep it, Katharine, as a soldier should. You live at home, as women use to do, and therefore cannot know the[Pg 127] truth of this great nation’s quarrel with its king. Spirits there are in this bad world, to whom their own security and peace bring no content, while any are debarred a common right. Such lead the people now; such, standing up in arms, demand for all, true liberty—and I am with them. The anointed head of England’s king is to me, as to you, sacred, and I would defend it from the swords of my own squadrons should any dare to threaten it. You have none near you, my beloved Katharine, to show you things in their true colours, and your gentle and pious fear of evil misleads your better judgment.”

“Francis, I thank God I live apart from the great world, and hear but little of their teaching; but this I know, nations are families, and he that slays his brother in any quarrel commits a sin, and he that puts forth his hand against a nation’s father is tempted to a crime so like to parricide, that the laws do visit treason with the same punishment. I’ll pray for thee, cousin,—pray that some power divine[Pg 128] may turn thy deceived heart,—may touch it with the spirit of peace, and love, and holy fear. Lay not the flattering unction to your soul, that the cause of true religion, or of true liberty, can be promoted by the sword of rebellion. It will turn into your own generous bosom hereafter, and pierce you through with sorrows.”

“Well, Katharine, a nation is a family; but if some of the children do poison a father’s mind against others, and these last rise up to punish their treachery, at whose door lieth the sin?”

“My heart is too heavy, Francis, to deal with you in argument. Sure I am, that you feel persuaded in your own mind of the truth of that view which lures you on to misery. Oh, that I could move thee. Francis, from the tender age at which I kneeled upon a mother’s lap, and lisped my infant prayer, I was taught to love and to reverence the church in which I was baptized; to worship in her courts; to kneel before her altars; and now I may not see her in the dust without a pang.”

[Pg 129]

“Katharine, I would sooner this arm should rot than that it should violate a church, or desecrate one pillar of the temple; but all that are called Israel are not Israel. There are unseemly spots upon the raiment of the King’s daughter. She will come forth more glorious for purification. Fear not, my gentle cousin, fear not, all will yet be well.”

“Not so—not so; my heart more truly tells some fatal end. What scarf is that upon thy shoulder? Where is thy king? Doth not his sacred head even now pillow upon thorns? His throne! his crown! where are they? by whom assailed? by whom defended?”

“The true enemies of the King, the true foes of the church, are gathered about the royal person; have poisoned his ear; have turned the generous blood of a princely heart to the black and bitter stream that swells the veins of tyrants. The best friends both of the church and of the King march to free them and to reinstate them in the love of all the people.”

“Oh, that it were so, Francis—were truly[Pg 130] so! Is Falkland in your ranks? Oh, that I had a tongue of persuasion to win you back again! Oh, that you were riding among your king’s defenders!”

“Katharine, by the sweet sacredness of my deep and constant love for you, ask me not that which I could never do with honour. Beneath the cope of heaven there walks no being whose wish is such a law to me as thine. My services are pledged—my colours chosen. My heart is in the cause. If thou couldst give to me thy precious self in marriage, as the mighty price of my desertion, I were unworthy of thee—we should be unworthy of each other. Our fall would be beyond the common lapse of false mankind. Even in our wedding garments our love would die.”

“Lord of my constant heart, forget my words:—I know not what they meant—I know not how I spake them. Sorrow, and fear, and love, and dark forebodings, do half bewilder me. I would not have thee other than thou art in any thing. Thy heart is no traitor’s heart. Delusion, bright as is the garment of[Pg 131] an archangel, goes before thee; and in Heaven’s chosen squadrons you shall be one day marshalled. Whene’er thou fallest in the battle, I shall know it:—the stars will tell it me: Francis, thou wilt be taken away from me,—I know it:—a presage dark and cold overshadows me.”

“Nay, love, that fear is idle; ’tis a passing weakness. Nor time, nor space, nor life, nor death, can e’er divide our loves. In all I think, in all I do, you are present with me. Spirits are not confined:—in lonely forest haunts, across the wide Atlantic, I have had thee with me, Katharine, visibly with me; and I do know by the mysterious sympathy between us, that thou hast seen me sit with thee, beneath thy favourite cedar, when ocean rolled between us. This is the high and glorious privilege of love like ours. Come to my heart:—be folded there in one such fond embrace as may live in memory’s cup to be a daily nectar.” He pressed her majestic form to his manly breast, and bowed his head upon her shoulder. Just then a trumpet sounded from the city.[Pg 132] He strained her yet closer to his heart, then cast his eyes around with eager glance, and made signal with his hand till Jane observed him and came up:—to her he passed his pale and silent charge with soft and reverent action, and, with the quick farewell of soldiers’ partings, broke suddenly away.

[Pg 133]


He calls us rebels, traitors; and will scourge with haughty
arms this hateful name in us.
Henry IV.

On the cold foggy evening of October the 22d, 1642, the brigade of foot to which the regiment of Cuthbert Noble belonged took up its ground for the night in an open field to the north of the village of Keinton, in which the Earl of Essex fixed his head-quarters. The armies of the King and the Parliament had been several days on the march, both moving in the same direction, on lines of route some twenty miles asunder. Both the King and Essex were well resolved to fight a battle when the fit opportunity should offer; and it was the common talk of the soldiers on both sides that they should soon come to blows. Nevertheless, there[Pg 134] was little thought in either camp that they were on the very eve of an engagement, or, indeed, that the main bodies lay so convenient to each other as to fight on the morrow. As soon as the guards were posted, the pikemen and musketeers of Maxwell’s regiment piled their arms in ranks, and were allowed to make such fires as they could. The country being open, and bare of wood, these fires were comfortless and short lived. By a flickering flame, fed with the small wood of the few bushes that grew near, Cuthbert Noble and Randal ate a slender supper of dry bread and salt herring, which they washed down with a weak draught of cold mixture, but faintly tinged with strong waters. “The Saxons,” said Randal, who was a very hardy man, “call this month the wine month, or Wyn Monath; certainly there must have been milder seasons in England formerly than we experience now; for it is impossible to fancy a vintage during such sharp frosts as these.”—“Yes,” said Cuthbert, “yes.” Randal smiled at a reply which bespoke inattention and discomposure, then added, “Master Cuthbert, I[Pg 135] counted on seeing you a little proud of your first night in camp: we must all endure hardness as good soldiers.”

“True,” answered Cuthbert, recovering himself: “what is a little cold and a little hunger compared to what thousands of Christian men have in all ages endured, and do in all ages endure for the truth? It is a great cause—a holy cause. I was only thinking at the moment that it is a pity we had not taken a little better care of our bread and of that bottle of strong waters: there is a loaf missing, and the bottle is almost empty. But what petty trifles these are; how much below the dignity of our nature: you are right, Randal; I am, and I ought to be, happy; see how comfortable the Colonel has made himself;” so saying, he pointed to where Maxwell sat, near the only good fire on the ground, with a few officers round him. He was enveloped in a large cloak,—a fur cap was drawn over his ears,—he was leaning with his back against a pack-saddle; and as the smoke of his pipe issued in warm clouds[Pg 136] from his mouth he looked as much at his ease as if seated in a chimney corner by the brightest fireside in the kingdom.

“Ay,” said Randal, “he is an old campaigner, and use is second nature; for myself, as long as I am warmly clad, for no other comfort do I care: I hate a pipe, and am not fond of a fire.” Now Randal was wrapped up in an outer coat of the thickest woollen; and Cuthbert himself, being also clothed in a large warm mantle, checked his disposition to complain, and, after a little conversation of a better kind, they both composed themselves to sleep. About two or three hours after he had lain down he was awakened by a sensation of extreme cold. He instantly discovered the cause: his mantle had been stripped off, and he was left without any other covering than the clothes in which he stood. Most of the camp fires were already extinguished, or only emitted a very faint light from the expiring embers. The stars in the deep blue sky above shone with the most vivid lustre: the fog had disappeared; and through[Pg 137] the clear gloom of night he could see outlines of the piles of arms and of the groups of sleeping soldiers. Immediately near him lay Randal in a profound sleep: lifting a half-burned brand, he saw by the light which it gave as he waved it around that the mantle was nowhere near the spot. He went among the groups which were not far off to search for it; but the growl and the curse of a brawny pikeman, over whom he chanced to stumble, deterred him from his pursuit; and he had no other resource than to pace up and down in a vacant space of ground, that he might keep himself warm by exertion. In vain he tried to raise his mind to heavenly contemplations; in vain he sought to warm his zeal by picturing the sad and severe sublimities of battle and of victory; and the price of blood which he might soon be called upon, and which he was ready to pay, for the triumph of his cause. For great sacrifices he was eager; for petty troubles he was wholly unprepared; therefore the night wore away in coldness and discontent.

[Pg 138]

Just as the day was breaking, he observed a man, in the garb of a Puritan, riding leisurely along the lines, and apparently taking a very particular notice of the position and number of the troops. What it was in the manner of the man that awakened the suspicions of Cuthbert is uncertain, but he felt impelled to go closer, and examine him. Accordingly, he crossed towards the quarter-guard, where he observed him stop and enter into conversation with the sergeant. The man’s back was towards Cuthbert,—thus he was able to approach the quarter-guard without being perceived by the stranger. No sooner did Cuthbert catch the tone of his voice than he immediately recognised it to be that of the roguish hypocrite who had slept in the same chamber with him at the inn in Aylesbury, two years before, and had stolen his purse and the horse lent him by Sir Oliver Heywood. The knave, not recollecting Cuthbert in his new dress, continued to pursue his inquiries after he came up in the same canting phraseology, and even addressed some questions to Cuthbert himself; but the latter, suddenly[Pg 139] seizing the bridle of his beast, directed the sergeant to pull him out of his saddle, which was instantly and adroitly done, and gave him in charge as a thief and a horse-stealer, and on suspicion of being a spy. The wretch was so panic-stricken that he made no effort to conceal or destroy any of the proofs which were found upon him, when they proceeded to search his person. These papers consisted of a letter to Prince Rupert—another, without a signature, saying that two squadrons of the Parliamentarian horse were prepared to desert as soon as the armies met—and a third, containing an accurate return of the strength of Essex’s main body, and an estimate of the numbers left behind in garrisons, and on other duties. He was taken before Colonel Maxwell; by him sent forthwith to the Earl of Essex, who, having gotten all the information which the confused hypocrite could give, directed him to be hanged in front of the lines, before the troops marched. The rogue died like a dog and a dastard, imploring mercy with loud and feverish howls, till, the noose being fastened tight about his[Pg 140] neck, and made secure to a strong branch on the only tree near the camp, the forage cart, on which he had been dragged beneath it, was driven away, and he suddenly fell, and swung slowly to and fro before the silent and stern battalions which were assembled upon the ground in arms.

Such was the Sabbath morning of October the 23d,—far different in prospect and in promise from those of his youthful days at Cheddar. The distant sound of trumpets told that the divisions of horse were already in motion; the drums beat; many a shrill fife pierced the ear; and the columns of foot slowly followed. The army had scarcely advanced a mile before the troops were halted; and they could all distinctly see a fair body of horse on the top of a high level, called Edge Hill, not more than a good mile in front. At the same moment, the Earl of Essex rode past Maxwell’s regiment, and said, in the hearing of Cuthbert,—

“Maxwell, I shall give you plenty of work to-day, for I know I may reckon on your regiment safely.”

[Pg 141]

“My Lord, we’re all ready and willing,” was the Colonel’s brief reply.

The order now came for drawing up the army in order of battle. Near Keinton, on the right, were some hedges and enclosures: among these were placed the musketeers and pikemen; and one of the most important posts was assigned to the regiment in which Cuthbert served. There were not above two regiments of horse in this wing, where the ground was narrowest; but in the left wing was placed a thousand horse under Ramsey. The reserve of horse was commanded by the Earl of Bedford, assisted by Sir William Balfour: between the Parliamentarians and the royal position, on Edge Hill, it was a fair open country. Essex having thus chosen his ground, stood still in a defensive posture, and directed three cannon to be discharged as a defiance and a challenge to the royal army: they answered readily on their part with two shot from a battery of field guns on the brow of their position. However, many of their foot regiments were quartered seven or[Pg 142] eight miles from the main body, and had that distance to march to the rendezvous. It was past one of the clock before the King’s forces marched down the hill, with the King’s standard waving in the centre of his regiment of guards. They made a very fine and gallant appearance, especially their horse. Their trumpets sounded out in the distance, very grand to hear, and those upon Essex’s left wing sounded also. It was a glorious sight to see the royal forces move steadily on, in two lines, with bodies of reserve. They numbered not less than eighteen thousand men, and the army of Essex was very little superior in strength; for two of his best regiments of foot, and one of his horse regiments, were a day’s march behind him. However, the Parliament soldiers were no less ready for the fray than their eager adversaries.

During the solemn pause before the battle, while the hosts were drawing up face to face, and the dispositions for the attack were completing, Cuthbert felt an unaccountable sadness on his spirits. He could well imagine, from all that he heard and saw, that the feelings of a[Pg 143] true soldier, standing opposite an army of hostile invaders, and about to fight for the altars and the hearths of his native land, must be of a most exalted and enviable description,—but how different were his. The royal standard of England was floating in the adverse line, and English voices were marshalling it for the onset: his own pupil, young Arthur Heywood, was riding in those ranks.

“Remember, men,” said the commanding voice of Maxwell, “to be silent and steady: wait for the order: reserve your fire to the last moment, musketeers; and keep your ranks, pikemen, when it comes to the push. By God’s help, we’ll drive them up that hill in worse order than they are coming down.”

In another minute there broke a sudden flash from the enemy’s line: close followed the white smoke and the thundering echo; and, by the very side of Cuthbert, a sergeant was struck down dead.

“Pick up Sergeant Bond’s partisan,” said the sergeant-major of the regiment as he was passing by: “pick it up, you Tibbs,” he repeated,[Pg 144] in a sharp cold tone, to a supernumerary sergeant attached to the same company, and who had only a sword.

“Is this the glorious battle death?” said Cuthbert to himself,—but he had no leisure for thought: the roar of shotted guns began on both sides, and the battle fiercely opened. The musketeers of the regiment were thrown out towards a hedge, a little in front of the ground occupied by the pikemen; and a canopy of smoke soon rose above them all, veiling the golden sun and the blue heavens, and giving to all the forms and faces of those around, whether friends or foes, a shadowy indistinctness.

In the midst of all this apparent confusion, governing commands were given by beat of drum, or by the swift and intelligent service of chosen aides, or by the personal presence and loud voice, at the particular point were they were needed, of Essex himself, who commanded and fought with his foot throughout the day. Captain Ruddiman, who commanded the company of pikemen to which Cuthbert belonged, did not appear to relish the cannon balls;[Pg 145] feeling very naturally, that however ready and able to encounter the Royalists at close quarters, there was no mode of guarding against a round iron shot; nor was he much better pleased with the spitting and whistling of musket-balls. However, being a very brave man, he stood them all as steady as a signpost, and rebuked Lieutenant Sippets for bobbing up and down in a very unsoldier-like fashion. Meanwhile Cuthbert was expressly called by Maxwell to go to the front, and take charge of a company of musketeers, the officers of which were all killed or wounded. He ran eagerly forward and was soon hotly engaged; but the royal dragoons coming up to the support of their foot, and both forcing their way on with ardour, the musketeers were withdrawn by Maxwell behind the reserve of pikemen; and these moving up in good and compact order soon came to a gallant push of pike, and drove back the enemy with severe loss; at the same time the musketeers stoutly supported the push of pike with their clubbed muskets, and made a bloody carnage in the royal ranks.[Pg 146] In this mêlée Cuthbert owed his life to that expertness at the sword exercise for which he was indebted to the lessons of George Juxon; for by a dexterous parry he beat off the assault of a stout Royalist officer, who ran at him as he was grasping at a colour, the bearer of which had stumbled, and, killing him by a home thrust through the body, succeeded in taking the colour.

In the pause which followed on the repulse of this attack Cuthbert received the high praise of Maxwell, and the honest congratulations of Captain Ruddiman, who, at close quarters, had himself done good service among the Royalists, making not a few bite the dust beneath the blows of a heavy poll-axe which he had found upon the field. Both parties now for awhile took wind and breath; but soon again the horse of Essex’s right wing was led by Sir William Balfour against the point of the King’s left. Their squadrons passed the flank of Maxwell’s regiment, as they advanced at a walk to take their ground before they formed up for the charge; and Francis Heywood, already[Pg 147] distinguished by his brilliant conduct at the unfortunate affair of Pershore, passed so close to Cuthbert that they shook hands. It scarcely seemed a minute from this friendly greeting ere their trumpets sounded the charge, and with a desperate fury they galloped towards the enemy. The first line broke before them: the second was staggered; but two regiments of the royal dragoons, in reserve, came swiftly to their aid, and by the fire of their long carbines struck down a great many of the Parliament horse, and following this up by a charge, compelled them to wheel about. The royal foot now advanced again, and made a furious attack upon the right of Essex, and pushed up to the very mouths of his cannon, and drove away the gunners and spiked several of the guns; but this artillery was valiantly won back by the Parliamentarians: and the brigade of foot in which Maxwell’s regiment fought actually charged the royal dragoons with their pikes, and drove them back in disorder, with the loss of a great many men and horses. It so happened,[Pg 148] in this last movement, that when the two parties were close together, Cuthbert caught a momentary but a very distinct view of the fine countenance of young Arthur Heywood, and heard him cry aloud, “Strike home, lads, for God and the King!” The smoke of battle soon hid the vision, and the royal dragoons were compelled to retire.

Prince Rupert had beaten the left wing of Essex, and was in full pursuit; but as night drew on the horsemen of the Prince were seen returning to the field of battle; and as the right wing had maintained its ground stubbornly, the battle ended by the King retiring to the hills, and leaving Essex in possession of the field, where he kept his troops together throughout the night. Both sides laid claim to the victory, and both gained some advantages in the fight, but their losses were very heavy and nearly equal. However, Essex slept upon the field of battle, and was joined in the night by most of the fugitives from his left wing, and was further reinforced by the arrival of two good regiments of foot and one of horse.

[Pg 149]

The sun had no sooner set on the evening of the battle than it began to freeze hard; and it being Cuthbert’s turn for outline guard, he was posted at the end of a considerable enclosure, near some large gaps, which had been made by the enemy in their attacks to admit of their bringing up their cannon and their cavalry. The slaughter near this spot had been considerable, and Cuthbert had to plant his sentinels among mangled and naked corpses; but in the gloom and obscurity of night the only appearance they presented was that of pallid and stony objects without a shape. He was surprised to find himself insensible to any feeling but the low animal sensations of hunger, cold, and weariness. He sat round the watch fire with the men composing the guard, and ate ravenously of such coarse provisions as were issued. His share of the plunder had been a large warm horseman’s cloak, which his corporal had found among the slain of the King’s guards, and which he now folded about him as he lay down to rest with a very thankful but[Pg 150] somewhat a selfish sense of comfort. He gave orders that he should be waked at every relief of the sentinels, and then sunk into a deep slumber, from which he was aroused, within two hours, to go his rounds. When he returned from them all disposition for sleep had departed. He trimmed the watch fire, and was soon the only one awake near the spot except the sentinel. A little book, with silver corners and clasps, lay on the ground, where it had apparently been thrown by one of the soldiers: it attracted the eye of Cuthbert by the gleaming of its silver clasps,—he took it up; the covers were smeared with dirt: he opened it,—it was a Book of Common Prayer: a leaf was folded down at the collect for the day; and in the inside of the cover was written the following quotation from George Herbert:—

“Sundays observe:—think, when the bells do chime,
’Tis angels’ music.”

He knew the handwriting; it was that of Katharine: he knew the book; he remembered the[Pg 151] Sabbath morning when she first presented it to her cousin Arthur. He thought upon that glimpse which he had caught of his pupil’s countenance in the battle, and he shuddered with apprehensions.

[Pg 152]


Great God! there is no safety here below;
Thou art my fortress; thou that seem’st my foe,
’Tis thou that strik’st the stroke, must guard the blow.

Although the malice of the hypocrite Daws had been disappointed by the result of his wicked artifices at Cheddar fair, and the worthy Noble had been saved from the injury and ruin which a lawless rabble were instigated to inflict on that peaceful man of God, yet Daws, being unsuspected and secure from detection, did not relax his efforts for the persecution and ejectment of Noble.

He contrived to have him haled before a committee of religious inquiry which visited those parts soon after; but here again he was baffled: for one of the commissioners being pricked in his conscience by observing the[Pg 153] godly simplicity of the good parson of Cheddar, and the sincerity of his love to the blessed Saviour of the world, procured his dismissal from that ordeal unharmed. Nevertheless Daws continued to work secretly for his own ends, and gave himself no rest in the pursuit of his great object. He had the reputation of great strictness and sanctity as a minister,—and the outward man imposed upon many; in his heart he cared not for the souls of men; his sins were those which often and long escape the detection of the world, and which can be indulged under the cloak of religious zeal without exciting the suspicions of any, but those honest and sagacious persons who can detect a character by indications of its spirit too slight and fine to be admitted as important by the multitude. He was avaricious and tyrannical: money was his idol; and to subject the minds of a congregation was his next delight. From his pulpit he dealt forth the most fierce and cruel fulminations against all unbelievers. Nor was he without many trembling followers, whom he scolded and[Pg 154] comforted, according to the caprice of his own temper.

“He damned the sins he had no mind to,
And spared the few he was inclined to.”

In his creed, the prayers and alms of any one who did not exactly entertain his notions of faith were sins, and would be visited as such. Now Parson Noble was a minister who bowed his knees before the Father of mercies as a self-abased sinner, confessing himself without grace or strength to will or to do, save of God’s free mercy, communicated through and for Christ’s sake. He taught all his people that if they asked the gifts and graces of repentance and faith in that precious name they could not be denied, and should never be sent empty away: to proclaim the message of peace and reconciliation was his delight; to invite all freely, to tell of a pardon to the human race, which, under the present dispensation of mercy, was the common right of all who were willing to accept it, was his constant practice; and he[Pg 155] showed them plainly that if they came not to the light, it was because they loved darkness; because they could not part with their sins, and shrunk from the Gospel as a rule of life. “Love,” he would say, “worketh no ill to his neighbour, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Love is keeping the commandments: God is love, from whom they came. Jesus is love, by whom they were taught, magnified, and perfectly obeyed, that in his sacrifice of himself, as a pure and spotless victim, we might have an all-sufficient atonement, and hope towards a God who had taken our nature upon him, and been manifest in the flesh.” Now Daws held that Noble was a blind leader of the blind, and that both would fall into the ditch; and he desired, first, the proceeds of Cheddar living in his pocket, and, next, the gratification of telling the flock of Noble that they were one and all in the broad road to destruction.

Nor did this insidious priest fail to spread all sorts of calumnies about the poor unconscious[Pg 156] vicar, and to irritate many furious zealots against him. He kept up a constant correspondence with a political partisan in London, to whom he gave much information on local and county matters, stretching his invention not a little when he had to tell any thing against the Royalists of those parts. By this means he got a name as a person well affected to the Parliament, and greatly interested in the cause of religious liberty.

It so happened, that, in the November immediately following the breaking out of the war, and the great battle of Keinton, a body of Parliamentarian horse being quartered in his neighbourhood, Daws found a fit instrument for his purposes on Cheddar, in a most furious and bigotted fanatic, who commanded a troop of horse. This man was easily persuaded that he could not render a more acceptable service to God than by destroying with fire and sword all places, all persons, and all things, which were, in his own view, defiled, and idolatrous, and impure; and he therefore sallied forth[Pg 157] against the church and the parson of Cheddar as he would against a temple and a priest of Baal.

On the day on which old Noble was ejected from Cheddar, with many circumstances of cruelty and hardship, he arose, as usual, with some fears, but with unshaken trust in the goodness and mercy of an all-wise and almighty Father. The day was cold, and not a sunbeam was admitted through the cloud and gloom which brooded over all things. It chanced that the stout and resolute old franklin Blount had determined that his grandchild should be publicly baptized at the same ancient font at which his own venerable forehead had been signed with the sign of the cross. There was some doubt in the mind of his son-in-law, Hargood, whether it was prudent at that moment of busy persecution, on the part of the county committee, to make so open a display of devout attachment to the hallowed ceremony of a christening. His loving daughter, from a tender apprehension about her infant’s safety, if any thing should fall out amiss, would have stolen[Pg 158] to church, at the earliest possible hour, and in the most quiet manner. However, habits of submission to her father, formed by an admiration of his character, were of so long a growth, and so deeply rooted, that the remonstrance of her fears was not ventured on; indeed Blount would have held it craven to yield to the timid suggestions of prudence, where he looked to a principle in his conduct. It is not improbable that some shadow of a domestic tragedy had been cast upon the old man’s solitary thoughts; for, within a few days past, there had been observable in his manner a mixture of severity and gentleness at once strange and affecting. He had twice been found in the large oak parlour alone, reading from the Book of Martyrs, which was there chained upon a tall desk. It is true that on both these occasions he had whistled and walked away quick; but it was afterwards remembered. Howbeit, at ten o’clock in the forenoon, there issued from the porch of the franklin’s old mansion a small party consisting of about eight persons, male and female: one of the last bore[Pg 159] in her arms an infant so folded up and hidden in a large mantle of thick white woollen, that nothing but a little outline of the babe could be seen, and not a breath of the keen wintry wind could penetrate to its tender frame. They moved slowly, and in a formal order up the long straggling street; and all the villagers who met them by the way, or looked at them from their doors, saluted them with bows and good words, but with evident and anxious wonder. A faithful woodman ventured to go close and whisper to Master Blount that he was just come in from Axbridge, and saw some of the rascal Roundheads mustering, and that he heard say, at the Old Pack-horse Inn, that they were going to march for Wells by the road of Cheddar. “Well, let them come,” said the franklin; “we are not doing any thing to be ashamed of: let them see us doing as their forefathers did before us, and redden in the face for their own falsehood; ‘church and king’ is an old cry and a good one: out upon the knaves!—God will defend his own.”

The party went forward; and having reached[Pg 160] the churchyard, passed into the church by the low chancel door, walked down the great aisle, and turned into the southern transept. Here stood the font; here the worthy parson awaited them, and his wife also, who was by a promise of long date to stand as godmother to the child. The old stone font, round which this pious family were assembled, had long been an object of great veneration to the inhabitants of Cheddar. It was octagonal in form, and supported upon a clustered shaft of Purbeck marble. The compartments on its sides were sculptured with scenes from Holy Writ. In one was represented the circumcision of Christ; in another the same blessed Lord was figured in manhood, with a little child in his arms, and his disciples standing round: through age and injury the subjects in the other compartments were no longer discernible.

Above the font was a window of painted glass, which, as there was no light of the sun to illuminate its gorgeous groups, did only present to the eye a dim cold grandeur;—a grave and visionary glory, through which, as in the pages[Pg 161] of unaccomplished prophecy, might be caught bright glimpses of pale and celestial faces, and yet garments crimson withal, as though they had been rolled in blood.

In this solemn light, and around this sacred font, the family of Blount reverently kneeled, and the service proceeded. The babe lay still and unconscious in the arms of the old franklin’s wife; and nothing told of its young life but a soft breath from parted lips, and a faint flush upon a waxen cheek. By its side knelt the fair mother, delicate and colourless, with eyes bent on the ground, and a forehead over which fears flitted, and disturbed her prayers.

Of all the party none save the sweet infant was so calm as Blount himself. Upon the throne of the old man’s heart his God was seated, and his soul was at peace. In fancy and in spirit he was again the subject of that holy rite. When Noble took the babe in his arms, and it opened its blue eyes and stretched out its little helpless hands, and as it felt the sprinkled water, and was signed with the sign of the cross, gave that little cry for which[Pg 162] mother and nurse listen so fondly, a few large tears dropped from the eyelids of the stalwart franklin, and the voice of Noble faltered a little as he saw them fall. The solemn declaration by which the child is received into Christ’s flock was completed, and was responded to by the deep and fervent Amen of Blount, and the gentler tones of those around him; and the good parson was proceeding to the thanksgiving that follows, when that fearful sound, which is made up of the trampling of horses, and the rattle of harness, and the blast of the trumpet, was heard at the church doors in the opposite transept. Their heavy leaves were thrown open with a sudden and violent crash, and two of the horsemen rode into the body of the church, accompanied by three severe and sour looking persons in sad coloured doublets, and narrow crowned hats, and followed by some low rabble, with whom, in fear and curiosity, a few of the good folk of Cheddar intermingled.

“I have a message for thee, thou priest of Baal,—thou blind leader of the blind,—thou whited wall,” said he, whose caparisons bespoke[Pg 163] him the chief, laying the flat of his sword with a smart stroke upon the neck of Noble. “Thou art weighed in the balance, and found wanting: thou must come with me; thy mummeries and thy knaveries shall no more pollute the sanctuary.”

“Dost thou not fear God?” said the meek but undaunted Noble, with a firm voice and unshrinking mien. “Dost thou not fear God, that thus thou comest to his holy temple? To what manner of man was it told, that it were better for him a millstone were tied about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones? I tell thee, the angel of that helpless babe doth, even now, behold the face of his Father, which is in heaven, and beareth witness against thee.—Go forth. I myself will follow thee, whithersoever thou wouldest, be it to judgment or to death; but this hoof-clatter in the courts of the Lord is a most abominable sin.”

“Now will I do so, and yet more, thou hypocrite, thou whitened sepulchre!” so saying,[Pg 164] the fanatic plunged his spurs into the flanks of his frightened war-horse, but the fretted and gallant beast did only rear, and chafe, and champ the bit. Meanwhile, the young mother, with her child in her bosom, and the other women round her, had sunk back into the corner of the transept in terror. Old Blount and his son-in-law interposed between the horsemen and Noble, and demanded of them loudly to quit the sacred building.

“I ask ye not,” said he, “as Christians, for that ye cannot be, but for your manhood’s sake, to suffer, that these poor terrified women pass forth with the infant in peace; for ourselves, though we be unarmed, we will abide your wrath as best we may.”

“Let not thine eye pity,” said a harsh voice from behind the horsemen: “blessed be he that taketh her children and dasheth them against the stones. Woe to the idolaters! woe!—The priest shall be slain at the altar, and the water of the Babylonish font shall be red with the blood of sacrifice.”

The frenzied zeal of the willing fanatic being[Pg 165] thus excited, he urged on his powerful steed, and raised his glittering sword. The hot animal by a weighty plunge came breast upon the font, and overthrew and brake it, and the consecrated water was spilled upon the ground. At this sight old Blount, with the strong arm of a Samson, caught at the bridle, and threw back the horse and his rider with so violent a force, that the hoofs slipped upon the smooth pavement, and they fell together; and before they had risen, the old man had caught up a heavy bar of wood near him, and raising the ponderous weapon with both hands, aimed so true and so deadly a blow at the sacrilegious chief that he never moved after; and the life-blood ran from his mouth and ears, and flowing onward, mingled with the water from the BROKEN FONT.

Every voice was silenced,—every foot was rivetted there where it stood. All were hushed and motionless, and every face looked ghastly. During this awful pause, the aged franklin, exhausted by the mighty and energetic deed, fell back against a seat, and, sinking into it, turned[Pg 166] pale, and his eye-sight became dim. Noble went over and took his hand in alarm, and eagerly inquired, “What is this? what is this? Are you wounded?”

“No,” he faintly answered, “not wounded, but—this is—death. Heavenly Father, forgive me, for thy dear Son’s sake, for I knew not what I did.”

His wife and daughter and his sons now gathered round him; but he was dying, and his words were few. He tried to kiss his infant grandchild, and he said to Noble, with a heavy sigh,—

“Your trials are coming:—I count myself happy, and commit my own dear family and yours to him who remembers mercy in judgment;” and now, letting fall his head on his wife’s bosom, he breathed a few times in a struggling convulsive manner, and his spirit returned to the God who gave it.

[Pg 167]


Even my prayers,
When with most zeal sent upward, are pull’d down,
With strong imaginary doubts and fears,
And in their sudden precipice o’erwhelm me.

The close of the December following the battle of Keinton found Cuthbert in winter quarters at Warwick. His regiment marched into that city on the day before Christmas-day; and, as soon as the men were distributed in their quarters, he walked towards Milverton, from that natural impulse which inclines us all to revisit any spot where we have passed a part, however small, of our mysterious lives.

It was a bright, clear, invigorating day: the ground was firm under the foot, and, though the sun shone out in a cloudless sky, there was so hard a frost that the pathways were clean. The trees glittered in the sun’s rays like[Pg 168] frosted silver, and the face of nature looked healthy and cheerful, like the winter season of a hale old age.

The step of Cuthbert was not so fast or active as travellers use in such weather. He walked like one who reluctantly takes exercise, and in company in which he takes no pleasure. He was alone, indeed, but with care and doubt for his companions. Since the battle, he had been advanced to the command of a company of musketeers, and Maxwell had distinguished him by particular attentions. Randal was still his more constant associate; and the petty and disagreeable perplexities to which he had been at first subjected by the uncongenial persons with whom he had been thrown, and by the novelty of the duties to which he had been called, had altogether vanished: for in three months habits are formed, and we become accustomed to any mode of life. To be accustomed, however, is not to be reconciled to it. But this was the least, and the most trifling and despised ingredient in the bitter cup from which Cuthbert daily drank,—[Pg 169]his conscience was not at peace. He drugged it with an opium, extracted, by a very common process, from the precepts and the promises of Scripture; but there was not a day of his life that it did not awake to some doubts and horrors, and the same medicine, dangerous where it is unskilfully applied, was taken to excess. He felt himself embarked in a black ship, with a wild and motley crew, and he dared not own to himself that he mistrusted those who navigated the vessel. Her way was through gloom and danger, and the voyage might, after all, end in shipwreck.

From the day of the battle, he was never seen to smile by any one; and from the severity of his thoughts, his countenance had gathered a sad yet stern complexion, which was not unsuitable to his present fortunes.

In a sort of hope that the sight of Milverton House might beguile his melancholy, might soothe him, by reviving sweet images of past and precious hours, and building, as he walked along, a new fabric of happy and peaceful liberty for his distracted country, he reached[Pg 170] the well known gates of the once hospitable mansion. Absorbed in his reflections, he never raised his eyes to direct them towards the house, till he stood at the very portal. The gates lay upon the ground; the noble edifice was a blackened and a yawning ruin. A sudden and terrific thunder clap, bursting from a serene sky, could not so painfully have startled him. All around was silent—desolately, dreadfully silent; and the sun was bright, and the stony skeleton of the vast dwelling was black. He poured a passionate cry to God: he fell down upon the earth, and petitioned feverishly that the evil one might not hunt him to despair.

When he had in some measure recovered his composure, he rose and walked through the lonely and roofless ruins. The rubbish, which had fallen in when the floors and ceilings of the upper chambers gave way, or were consumed, had been disturbed, and removed in large quantities, to be sifted for any valuable metals which they might contain, so that he could make his way without difficulty, and could still trace distinctly all the lower apartments.

[Pg 171]

Near the fire-place in the large kitchen, on a part of the wall that had only been scorched, might still be read one of those rude and homely posies which were the delight of our honest forefathers, and might be found alike in the manor-house and the humbler cottage of the husbandman:—

“At Christmas be merry, and thankful withal,
And feast thy poor neighbours, the great with the small;
Yea all the year long, to the poor let us give,
God’s blessing to follow us while we do live.”

And upon the other side of the fire-place was written up,—

“Play thou the good fellow; seek none to misdeem;
Disdain not the honest, though merry they seem;
For oftentimes seen, no more very a knave,
Than he that doth counterfeit most to be grave.”

These posies brought more to Cuthbert’s mind than the memory of the happy Christmas he had once passed within these very walls. The lines, which he had known from his boyhood, were taken from old Thomas Tusser’s Book of Husbandry, the favourite manual of the old franklin Blount, and a work of which he remembered[Pg 172] his father had always been very fond, and which stood upon the book-shelf at Cheddar next the Country Parson of Master George Herbert. All these recollections came upon him at once, and overwhelmed his spirit. He was totally ignorant of all that had been lately enacted at Cheddar, and of the present situation of his father. He had not heard of or from his parents for several months; but his fears for their safety had been quieted by a promise, that especial orders should be sent to all the forces of the Parliament to respect both the persons and the dwellings of all such relations of the officers and men serving the Parliament as did not take up arms against them, whatever might be their known sentiments on affairs of church and state.

How far this line of forbearance had been broken through, and how violently, the ruins around most plainly declared; for he was well assured that Francis Heywood would have omitted no precaution which could possibly have availed to protect the property of Sir Oliver; nor had he been present with the division[Pg 173] by whom this wanton crime was effected would he have failed to repress it. But when “Havoc!” is once cried, and the dogs of war are once let slip, who shall, who can, restrain them, but he who sitteth in the circle of the heavens?

His fancy became bewildered with the thought of his mother’s grief, and the dangers to which she might possibly be exposed, and of the possibility that his father might be suffering the penalty of some bitter persecution by his adherence to the royal cause. He, as was his wont in all extremities of doubt and sorrow, betook himself to the only source of true comfort, when men are guided by the Spirit of truth to a right use of it:—he drew from the bosom of his doublet a small Bible. He implored direction from above; and yet, when he had done so, yielded to the petty superstition of opening the sacred volume suddenly, and taking the first text that presented itself to his eye for his counsellor. The words which he thus read were, “Where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” He smote upon his breast with agony, perused the[Pg 174] chapter of James the Apostle, from whence it was taken, and that which followed. All his resolutions were staggered and shaken. He was in a mood to unbuckle his sword, and to find a lodge in some wilderness where man could not penetrate. “Yet,” said he aloud, as pleading his own cause before the invisible throne, “Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I am not moved by the spirit that lusteth to envy in this great contention against apostasy and spiritual wickedness in high places.” In the fervour and agitation of his appeal his Bible fell from his hand, and when he took it up, it opened at that same epistle at the beginning of it; and reading there that he was to count it all joy falling into divers temptations, and that the trying of his faith worked patience, he was again as suddenly recovered to steadfastness, in what he blindly persuaded himself was the battle of the Lord; thus giving a most sad practical proof that he was a waverer, tossed and driven to and fro like a wave of the sea. What further doubts and changes might have coloured his meditations,[Pg 175] and his prayers in that desolate and afflicting scene, had he been left alone to brood over all his fears, it is not possible to say; but he was roused and interrupted by the sound of footsteps on the paved path, which led up from the terrace towards the principal entrance, the steps of which yet remained. He stood aside, that the intruder, whoever it might be, should not discover him. To his surprise, it was no other than old Margery of the sand pit. She turned towards the offices as soon as she entered the Hall, and went winding her way through heaps of rubbish, towards an outhouse in the court-yard, the roof of which was still entire. Her aspect, and the echo of her staff and of her footsteps, in that solitary ruin, were very strange and affecting. Afraid of too suddenly alarming the aged and unhappy being, he followed her with light and noiseless steps to the low building, which she entered. Of the two small windows that gave it light one was half open, and having gained it, he could see and hear what was passing within. Laying down her bag and staff, she seated herself on a very[Pg 176] low stool, close by the little fire-place, and applied her breath to the embers. The white ashes flew off, and laid bare the glowing embers. To these she applied a few dry sticks which she had brought with her, and a warm and cheerful flame, accompanied by a light crackling noise, soon blazed comfortably before her.

“I wonder where the master is this blessed day,” were her first words, “and Mistress Kate, that was God’s angel to me, and the rest of them. Wherever they are, Christ comfort them, and bless them: they were good friends to me, and to many. I never came to the gate, and went away without a measure of meal and a kind word; and it was a good day for my poor soul when the beautiful lady first talked to me:”—she stopped, and put on another stick or two;—“and Parson Juxon, that made me leave the pit, and gave me a bit of a cot to myself at Old Beech, where he and I would have been now but for the wars and the villainies of those devils that burned his house over his head, and made a bonfire to roast me, if it had not been[Pg 177] God’s will to make ’em fall out about it. They called me ‘a child of hell,’ I mind:—well, it is not the first time—many a score times gentle and simple have called me the same, till within the last two years, and I thought it was all over, and I got to heaven already; but there’s a weary bit yet for me. I hope it wo’n’t be long. Now, if parson was here, he’d scold and look pleasant at me, and say, ‘God’s time’s the best time, Margery.’ Well, now, I’ve lost him—God’s will be done. I’ve been a poor sinful body all my days; but I never harmed any more than a curse might, and little ill could that do to any but my own poor self. It’s well it couldn’t; for if it had been able to kill, I should have sent it after many a one, and might again. God help me! I’ll be burnt for a witch some day yet; and, truth to say, I’ve many a time wished I was one,—but that’s all over. I say the Lord’s Prayer different now.”

Here she clasped and raised her lean and withered hands, and said it in a humble whisper on her knees.

[Pg 178]

Cuthbert was agitated terribly; but he dared not speak, he dared not enter.

“Who shall say,” thought his better mind, “who shall say that the blessed One, who taught his disciples thus to pray, is not present, dimly seen, perhaps, but felt with secret reverence and affection?”

Her prayer said, the old woman put a little earthen pot on the fire, and again seated herself on the stool by the side of it.

“Ah! it’s no merry Christmas,” said she, “here, or any where else; but I have known a worse; and I think this is safe hiding, for the folk all think the place haunted. Well, I must thank God, and make the best of it.”

As she ended these words, she began humming the air of an old Christmas carol, and at last sung, in the mournful voice of age, this ancient fragment:—

“He neither shall be clothed
In purple nor in pall,
But all in fair linen,
As were babies all;
He neither shall be rocked
In silver nor in gold,
But in a wooden cradle,
That rocks on the mould.”
[Pg 179]

At the close he went to the door, and before he entered called her gently by name. The tone of voice in which he spoke had the effect which he intended, and, without any cry of alarm, she rose up quietly and turned round; but she no sooner beheld his military dress than her terror became excessive. It was quite in vain that he attempted to bring himself to her recollection: the fear of being dragged forth and led to the stake was uppermost, and entirely bewildered her. In his person she saw only one of those from whose hands she had so recently escaped, and her shrieks and implorations were agonising to hear. To relieve her he quitted the ruin; and before he was many hundred yards from it had the pain of seeing her on the far side of it hobbling fast towards the cover of the adjoining wood for concealment. He walked to his quarters in a miserable and dejected mood; and as he passed an open church which had apparently been occupied by Parliamentary soldiers, he went in for a moment. It was empty: the tombs and monuments had been broken and their inscriptions[Pg 180] defaced: not a pane of glass in the tall windows had escaped destruction: a painting over the altar had been hacked to pieces; and, as if in mockery, the tables of God’s commandments were left on either side plainly legible, and above, in the midst, might be seen, in letters of gold, the words of that message of mercy which the angels of God sang to the shepherds keeping watch by night, when they announced the advent of Messiah,—Peace on earth,—good will towards man.

[Pg 181]


Thus see we how these ugly furious spirits
Of warre are cloth’d, colour’d, and disguis’d,
With stiles of vertue, honour, zeale, and merits,
Whose owne complexion, well anatomis’d,
A mixture is of pride, rage, avarice,
Ambition, lust, and every tragicke vice.
Lord Brooke.

It is now necessary to relate that treatment of George Juxon to which old Margery alluded in the last chapter. For six weeks after the first visit of the Parliamentary soldiers to Old Beech he successfully maintained his post, and continued to officiate every Sabbath among his people. His house, indeed, had been often beset by small parties of soldiers or by other godly reformers deputed to arrest him, but he was so beloved by the villagers that he was always warned, and was thus enabled to escape their hands or evade their search; nor were any of these parties of a strength sufficient for[Pg 182] attempting acts of violence upon the church or the parsonage. Indeed one of them was fairly braved and driven away by Juxon himself, disguised like a farmer, and aided by his faithful friend the blacksmith and half a dozen more. One Sabbath morning, as he was out upon the watch, in the disguise of a belted woodman, he met a party coming to seize him about a mile from Old Beech, and, having put them on a wrong scent, went joyfully home, and preached to a glad and attentive congregation. However, his popularity and his very name were offences too great in the sight of the Roundheads of Coventry to suffer him much longer to elude his enemies. A squadron of horse made a sudden march from that city on a Sunday afternoon, and surprised both pastor and flock while engaged at divine service. They rode into the churchyard; and having there dismounted, their commander, followed by a dozen or more officers and troopers, entered the church with their steel caps on their heads, and, by the noise of their steps, would have[Pg 183] drowned the voice of Juxon if he had not instantly made a pause to consider his best course. One look at the leader of this band satisfied him that any appeal to the spirit of love and of a sound mind would be vain; and a glance through the window had shown him that any resistance by force on the present occasion would only expose his people to a very great calamity.

The commander of the troops was no other than Sir Roger Zouch. Accordingly Juxon said, with a loud voice, “My Christian brethren, the worship of God in this place being thus interrupted, I dismiss you to your homes.” His manly tone caused an attention on the part of the soldiery, which produced a short and silent pause, and, taking advantage of this, he solemnly pronounced the blessing with which the service of the church always concludes. Sir Roger, after stammering with anger, now broke out most violently, “Peace, peace! thou criest peace where there is no peace, thou son of perdition. Come out of thy calves’ coop, and make an end of thy pottage. I know thee, who thou[Pg 184] art; thy very name savoureth of all evil: take him out, thou good and faithful soldier of the cross, Zachariah Trim, and that book of abomination with him, and make my passage to yon pulpit pure;—verily I will speak a word to these poor, perishing, and neglected people.” If it had not been for Juxon’s discretion at this moment the church would soon have become a scene of blood; for the stout blacksmith, seeing Zachariah move towards the desk with an action as if he would lay hands on Juxon, interposed with so hasty and resolute a manner, as caused Zachariah to step back two or three paces and draw his sword. His example was instantly followed by many comrades; and the shrieks of alarm among the women and children were dreadful. But Juxon came forth in a collected mood, and so spoke, that the swords were returned to their scabbards, and his people submitted, though in fear yet in silence, while the few among them, who, like the blacksmith, were ready for any hazards, forebore any further attempt at resistance.

Sir Roger ascended the pulpit, put down his[Pg 185] steel cap by his side, poured forth a long, rambling, confused prayer, took out his pocket Bible, and preached for two hours; till the sweat streamed down his bony cheeks, and his voice became hoarser than any raven that ever croaked his sad predictions at a sick man’s window. Juxon listened with profound and with indignant astonishment to his wild and blasphemous perversions of divine truth; but he was comforted, as far as his own flock was concerned, in the consciousness that they were better instructed than to be moved by his fanaticism. His manner corresponded with his matter; and if he had not been accompanied by too many and too formidable and ready ministers of his violent will he would only have excited sentiments of disgust and ridicule. But as he thundered forth his curses upon the church in which the poor villagers had been brought up, and described her by a flood of reproachful names and epithets, of which last, Babylonish was the most gentle, no one could listen to his ravings without serious fears that they were a plain preface to deeds of crime.[Pg 186] It was, therefore, with a heart full of devout and sincere thanksgiving for his people that Juxon heard this strange and fierce iconoclast promise with solemnity that their houses and their little property should be respected, and that no one of them should suffer any harm from his soldiers; but that he would take away with him their blind and wicked guide, and would only purge and purify the polluted temple and the priest’s dwelling.

The surplice and hood of Juxon had been torn from his back before this precious discourse began, and he had been placed in custody between two armed troopers, with pistols in their hands, and was frequently addressed by the heated Sir Roger in those words which are applied both in the Old Testament and the New to false and unfaithful teachers. All this he had borne with a calm and admirable courage,—feeling within the answer of a good conscience, and supported by an unshaken faith in a God of wisdom and love.

“It is the Lord,” he said within himself, “let him do what seemeth him good,”—and[Pg 187] all the unuttered petitions which his heart sent up to the throne of grace were for the spiritual and temporal preservation of his little flock.

When Sir Roger concluded his sermon, he gave forth one of those psalms, which, being directed against idolatry, he considered as appropriate to the work he now meditated. It was sung in loud and harsh notes by his gloomy looking troopers, after which, descending into the body of the church, he directed fire to be brought, and burned the Book of Common Prayer before the communion table; heaping on the same fire all those rags and fragments of the whore of Babylon, as he was pleased to designate pulpit and altar cloth, and all the decent vestments of the minister.

At this gross outrage, Juxon burst forth with a holy zeal, in a most earnest tone of faithful remonstrance; but he was instantly gagged in a painful mode, and was forced in this state to witness their after proceedings.

The people were now forcibly driven out of the church, and as many troopers as could find room were directed to come in and stable there[Pg 188] for the night. The order was obeyed with tumultuous joy; and they had no sooner taken possession of their once sacred quarters, than they began and completed the work of demolition,—breaking the coloured windows, destroying the tombs, and crowning their work of hell by bringing in a baggage ass, and baptizing it with mock ceremonies at the font. This last work was not witnessed by Sir Roger, who was busily superintending the burning of poor George Juxon’s library, and of many curiosa in the way of antiquities, which his father had collected in foreign countries, and bequeathed to him at his death.

It so chanced, that the first thing on which the eyes of Sir Roger rested, when he entered the parsonage, was a glass case, or cabinet, in which, among other ancient relics, was a small crucifix, exquisitely wrought in ivory. The sight of this inflamed his zeal to the boiling pitch; and declaring that so great an abomination could only be punished by the utter destruction of the dwelling in which it was found, he called in two or three assistants,[Pg 189] whom he judged qualified to overlook the books on the shelves, to the end that any godly ones might be saved from the general ruin;—declaring, at the same time, that all the silver, and the gold, and the raiment, and the furniture, and the pictures, and the vessels, of what sort soever, whether in hall or kitchen, were polluted, and must be consumed, and denouncing the wrath of God on any of his followers who should presume, like Achan, to appropriate a single article of the unhallowed heap. Accordingly, on the lawn before the windows, a huge fire was made of all these goods, which were cast forth from the windows; the shell only of the house being spared for the use of such godly minister as the Parliament might appoint.

The attention of Sir Roger and the few zealots with him was confined to the contents of the library: not a few valuables, however, from other parts of the mansion, were stolen and secreted by the sly rogues of the squadron. But it so chanced that, as the house was spared, in a concealed recess, behind a false wainscot, his family plate and a few heirlooms were[Pg 190] preserved. Of five hundred volumes, however, only three copies of the Bible, also one work in folio, two small thin quartos, and a heap of loose pamphlets of a controversial nature, written by Puritans, escaped the sentence of fire. Upon the same pile, and doomed to blaze in the same flame, were thrown fine copies of the ancient fathers; the works of sound Protestant divines, and ponderous lives and legends of Romish saints; the tomes of Bacon, and old worthless folios on astrology and divination; the plays and poems produced by the genius of a Shakspeare and a Spenser, and the interminable and prosaic romances which, in the preceding age, our ancestors had found leisure and patience to peruse.

During the night, Juxon was confined as a prisoner in one of the out-houses in his own yard, and, in the morning, he was mounted on a lean, bony cart-horse, without saddle or bridle, and led by a small escort to Warwick, where, before he was committed to the gaol of the Castle, he was subjected to the odious and vile insults of an examination before a Committee[Pg 191] of Religion. Three witnesses appeared against him: two of these were base knaves from his own parish, and the third was from Coventry.

Thomas Slugg, the first of these, a lazy hypocrite, who found it easier to affect the office of an itinerant singer of psalms than to dig, deposed that Parson Juxon was an enemy to all godly persons, and a teacher of falsehoods, caring nothing for the souls of his people; and, as a proof, stated that, when, on one occasion, he, the witness, had asked him, “whether there were many or few that should be saved?” he had turned his back upon him, and entered the church saying,—

“What is that to thee? follow thou me.”

Another, who was a turned-off journeyman of the blacksmith’s, deposed that he saw Parson Juxon one day in a field behind his own garden casting the bar and hammer; and that he, the parson, threw a bar, and a heavy stone, and a sledge hammer, and that the smith, and two farmers, and one Strong, a warrener, threw against him.

[Pg 192]

The third was no other than the witch-finder from Coventry, who swore that the parson consorted with dealers in magic and the black art; that books on those arts were found in his house, and burned (this was confirmed eagerly by some of the escort), and that he even kept in his pay and service a notorious witch named Yellow Margery.

Juxon listened to these charges with a grave smile, and made no reply. Hereupon one of the commissioners observed, in great wrath,—

“That he was a most godless and obstinate Malignant, as was plain to see by his laughing, and the redness of his face; and that if not drunk, he was merry; but that a gaol and bread and water would soon take away the colour from his cheeks, and bring down the naughtiness of his spirit.”

They forthwith committed him to Warwick Castle, as a soul-destroying hypocrite, who held communion with idle and lewd fellows, and consorted with witches; and they appointed one Mr. Blackaby, a true brother, and bold as a lion for the faith, to succeed him at Old Beech,[Pg 193] directing that he should be protected in his settlement by a detachment from the garrison, until the stubborn people of that village were reduced to submit heartily to God and the Parliament.

The room of the Castle to which Juxon was now removed was a large comfortless apartment with damp stone walls and no fire, containing about fourteen other prisoners, ten of whom were, like himself, incumbents. The two windows of this room looked down upon the river, which washed the very walls of the Castle; and the windows were not only securely barred, but even were it possible to force that obstacle, the fall being very great, any notion of the escape of a prisoner would have been judged an idle fear. However, the faithful blacksmith and George Juxon’s groom had followed the escort into Warwick, and watched the courageous parson as he walked with an upright carriage and manly step between the guards who took him to prison.

Having gained information concerning the part of the Castle in which he was confined,[Pg 194] they laid a plan for his deliverance, which, from their knowledge of his strength and activity, they thought possible, though extremely difficult.

They conveyed to him in a loaf of brown bread, which was sent by one of the charity children of the place, and was given him without suspicion, a small cord, of sufficient strength to bear his weight, a small steel saw, and a phial of aqua-fortis.

It was not possible to conceal this from his fellow-prisoners, nor could he desire to do so. They promised secrecy, but dissuaded him from the attempt. That it was very perilous, he well knew; but he resolved upon it at once. In the afternoon of the day on which he received the cord, he saw the blacksmith standing on the river bank in the opposite meadow. The man did not pretend to take any notice of the Castle, but stripped off his clothes and plunged into the water; and it being a cold frosty day, he was loudly laughed at by a group of soldiers standing on the bridge. He swam out into the middle of the stream and back[Pg 195] again; then putting on his clothes, he disappeared.

By two o’clock on the following morning Juxon had cut away a bar, and made fast his cord. Amid the breathless good wishes of his fellow-prisoners he began to descend, clad only in a pair of stout drawers and his shirt. The cord, though strong enough, was so small, that it cut his hands like a knife; but he got safely down to within twelve feet of the water, and from hence dropped into the river; and gaining the opposite side, was helped up the bank by the stout arm of his faithful blacksmith, and hurried to a hedge, behind which he found dry clothes and his groom with two horses. To dress himself, to snap a hunter’s mouthful, and to take one draught of cordial spirit from the leathern bottle of his servant, was the glad work of a few minutes; and by eight o’clock on the same morning he was forty miles on the road to Shrewsbury. Among other friends at the royal head-quarters he found Sir Charles Lambert and Arthur Heywood, and at once resolved to follow the fortunes of the camp as a[Pg 196] volunteer chaplain to the regiment of horse with which they were serving. He was present with them in the battle of Keinton; and though decided himself not to use arms, he rode upon the flank of the regiment when it charged.

The horse of Sir Charles being killed under him, Juxon alighted, in an exposed and perilous position, and instantly gave his own to remount his friend. Here it was that, soon after, the gallant boy Arthur, returning wounded from the front, fell fainting from his saddle; and his frightened horse flying fast away, he would have been left helpless on the field before the advancing enemy, had not Juxon been a witness of his distress and danger. Hastening to the bleeding boy, he lifted him on his back, and so carried him a mile and a half to the top of Edge Hill, where a surgeon dressed his hurt, and pronounced it to be severe, but not dangerous, or likely to be attended with loss of limb or any very serious consequences. Having seen Arthur placed safely in a cart with other wounded officers going to a village in the rear, Juxon remained upon the hill, to which the[Pg 197] royal army retired at sunset; and, as he saw Sir Charles and his own favourite roan horse coming safely back at the head of a squadron which had suffered severe losses, his heart swelled thankfully within him. He shook the hand of Sir Charles with a tearful cordiality; and they ate their cold and scanty supper by a little fire in the open fields, with sentiments of gratitude and of piety at once elevated and pure. The crown of England was hanging as it were on a bush, and they were among its guardians. Moreover, there was in both their bosoms a fine consciousness of what was passing in their respective hearts:—to see the noble and miraculous change in a man whom he had once, and with reason, despised, was a rich reward to Juxon,—while Sir Charles sat in the presence of his friend with the sweet and gracious feeling that he had been to him as a guardian angel and as a voice from Heaven.

[Pg 198]


Happy are those
That knowing, in their births, they are subject to
Uncertain change, are still prepared, and arm’d
For either fortune:—a rare principle,
And with much labour learn’d in wisdom’s school.

One fair star was still shining in the eastern sky, and a cool wind, balmy with the odours of spring, blew pleasant upon his cheek, as a traveller, whose dusty feet showed that he had come many a mile upon more public roads, walked rapidly across the footpath-way of a green and dewy close, at the far end of which was the churchyard of Cheddar.

The outline of the tall tower was majestically defined upon the light of the dawning day, and beyond, hidden by well-remembered trees, lay the home of the wayfarer.

In the low grey wall which surrounded this sacred enclosure there was a very ancient stile,[Pg 199] all rudely graven over with notches, crosses, and initial letters. The hand of the traveller was already upon this stile, when he suddenly paused, as though some unwelcome object presented itself, and forbade his progress. His cheek changed, and his heart sank, and he stood as still as though a spell were upon him. Yet it was no uncommon sight that arrested him, and one quite in keeping with the hour and the scene.

A sturdy old sexton, the scarebabe of all the infants in the parish, but the cheerful, though grim-looking, minister to many of his boyish sports and pleasures, was digging a grave under the north wall of the church, and had just thrown up a skull, which lay beside his mattock, near the pediment of the building.

All men are superstitious:—the eye of the traveller, which, but a minute before, was beaming bright with hope, became sad and anxious; his lip quivered, and, instead of vaulting over the stile eagerly, and hurrying to the wicket of the vicarage, he leaned upon the low wall with a feeling of faintness, his sight[Pg 200] became dim, and his thoughts confused and mournful. He had been a long time absent in a foreign land,—some change might have taken place at home; and this idea once admitted to his mind, was followed by a crowd of most natural fears, and of melancholy images. These, however, were soon dispelled by the lively tones of the hale old sexton’s voice. To relieve the dull and lonely labour of digging a grave, he was trolling out, in a sort of hearty jig-jog cadence, a fragment of the Mayers’ song:—

“The moon shines bright, and the stars give a light,
A little before it is day;
So God bless you all, both great and small,
And send you a joyful May.”

This snatch of an ancient medley, so familiar to Martin Noble from his earliest years, called up the memory of May games, and summer days, and a happy boyhood; and a rush of bright recollections swept away the cloud from his mind, as a clearing wind drives the mist from a mountain top, and lays it open to the glad play of the cheerful sunbeams.

[Pg 201]

Martin Noble, as we shall hence call our wayfarer, sprung lightly into the churchyard, and approaching the old sexton, thus accosted him:—

“Good morrow to you, Robert: I am glad to hear your voice once more, and to find you so stout and well.”

“Kindly spoken,” said the old man, raising his head, and leaning on his spade, “kindly spoken. Robert is my name, sure enough; but what yours may be is more than I know, or can guess even, without you are young Blount that went to the wars. Perhaps, master, you made a bit of guess-work, and never saw me before.”

“No, I am not young Blount, but I have seen you as often and knew you as well as he did; and to thy cap, thy jerkin, the keys at thy girdle, and thy grizzled beard, thou art just as I left thee, old Robert. God grant that I may find my own dear father as little altered.”

The spade fell from the old man’s hand, and rubbing his eyes as if to clear his vision, at the same time coming closer to his object, he exclaimed,—

[Pg 202]

“Odd’s life, you cannot be Master Martin that went to foreign parts?”

“Yes, but I am,” said Martin, shaking the old man’s hand:—“tell me, Robert, is my father well.”

“Oh yes, he’s well,—that’s to say, he don’t ail, as I hear, God bless him!—but as to well,—I can’t call him well, after all, when I think of a kind soul like him without a——”

“Heavens! my mother is not dead?”

“Oh no; but have not you heard of all the changes here at Cheddar?”

“Of what changes do you speak? I have heard nothing. It was only last evening at sunset that I landed at Clevedon Creek in a fishing-boat which came alongside our brigantine as we were running up the Channel to Bristol. I journeyed hither, as you see, on foot, but I shall know all by going home at once.”

“Stop, Master Martin, the parson’s house is no home of thine now; an thou ring the bell, a sour face, and a hard word, and a slammed door, would be thy sorry welcome.”

[Pg 203]

“You don’t surely mean that such a man as my father has been taken from his people, and from his own house and home?”

“Yes but I do. The good shepherd is gone, and we have a false goatherd in his place,—a wolf in shepherd’s clothing.”

“Where then is my father gone? Where shall I find him?”

“I can’t rightly tell you myself; but I’ll take you to them that can. It’s somewhere, however, near old Glastonbury Tor; and they tell me that master is as cheery as ever, though, God help him, he fares no better, as this world goes, than I do. Come, I’ll take you to old Mistress Blount: right glad she’ll be to see thee again, and a sad story she’ll have to tell thee about the old gentleman. God’s blessing on his soul!—a was the poor man’s friend.”

“What! is dear old Master Blount gone?”

“Ay, it’s an awful tale. The mistress will tell you all about it.” So saying, he led the way to a wicket leading out of the churchyard at an opposite corner; but ere they reached it[Pg 204] he stopped, observing, that second thoughts were best.

“No,” said the old man, “if I take thee to Mistress Blount it may get her into trouble, and if I take thee to my bit of a cot, it may bring thee into trouble; for my old woman is as curious as a magpie and as leaky as a sieve, and every gossip near us would soon be on the lookout and the chatter. If thou go to the Jolly Woodcutter, near the Market Cross, thou wilt find old Margery Broad the right hostess: she hath good liquor and few words, and neither meddles nor makes. Go break thy fast, and take rest, and in the evening thou canst set forward for Glastonbury. When the chimes go five, I’ll bring one shall guide thee to thy father’s.”

“Why such delay? I would go at once.”

“It will be better for your father that you should not reach Glastonbury till after dusk; besides, you have been afoot all night, and a stretch on one of Dame Margery’s pallets will do you no hurt.”

With these words they parted, and Martin Noble walked slowly down towards the hostel.[Pg 205] The rising sun was but just beginning to gild the carved pinnacles of the church tower and the tops of the tallest trees. The townlet itself lay, as yet, in deep shadow. The streets were silent, and, but for here and there the figure of a solitary labourer going early to the field, they were empty.

Nobody was yet astir at the Jolly Woodcutter, therefore Martin patiently took seat at the Market Cross, in one of the angular recesses of that ancient hexagonal building which so conveniently shelter poor wayfarers from sun and rain.

As here he mused in silence, his reverie was suddenly broken by a voice from one of the adjoining seats, and he found he was not the sole occupant of the friendly building. His unseen neighbour thus talked with himself, or rather thought aloud,—

“Ho, daylight!—truly the light is comfortable, and a pleasant thing it is to behold the sun: blessings on the man that built this shelter for the houseless head. Jack, thou art a fool; I say thou art a fool, and I have often told thee[Pg 206] so. Thou hast not one farthing in thy pocket. I tell thee a man with empty pockets is and must be a fool; and it shall go hard with him if, though he keep his hands from picking and stealing, he be not called a knave also. Here cometh a fellow now, with a red face and a portly belly, who will say me a ‘sirrah’ to a certainty, and talk to me comfortable words about the gallows. I am penniless, therefore I am a rogue; I am houseless, therefore I am a sorry vagabond. This is charitable judgment, and sound logic: so said the tapster last night when he thrust me forth into the street, and bolted his door against me. They may call gold poison to men’s souls, but I verily think that one broad piece would do me no great hurt. A morning in the stocks, and without a breakfast, will never do: I must be off to the liberal fields, and try coaxing at a lone farm house.”

These words were followed by the sound of a shuffling footstep; and the speaker turned sharply round by Martin’s side of the cross, to avoid the questions of a burly personage who[Pg 207] was advancing to call him to account. The figure of the poor wanderer was sufficiently deplorable; yet it was impossible to look upon it without a smile. He was a very tall and a remarkably spare man, with a long pale face, one side of which was contracted so as to give the appearance of a perpetual winking:—his beard was yellow, and untrimmed. He was habited in a suit of plum-coloured cloth, which had been once of the best quality, but was now faded and threadbare:—his shoes were worn out, and he limped, leaning on a stout cane. At one glance Martin saw that he was one of those forlorn strolling players whose services during these times of trouble were no longer needed, and whose age and infirmity forbade him the privilege of following many of his calling to the camp. He was a cast off minister of pleasure, and, like a cracked viol or an empty flagon, thrown aside as useless.

“Whither away so fast, sirrah?” said the beadle, stepping after him; “what dost thou here alone in the street at this hour?”

[Pg 208]

“Marry I am not alone, but in company that I would be happy to be well rid of.”

“Why, thou knave, did I not see thee rub thine eyes, and shake thyself, and not a soul near thee?”

“Nay, but I tell thee we were three:—first, there was myself; next, there was poverty, a fast traveller, that is even now pinching me, and, thirdly, there was an armed man called want, who belabours me without mercy.”

“None of thy foolery, rogue, or I’ll clap thy claw-foot in the stocks:—thou wilt come to the gallows tree at last;—a sluggard all thy life long, I’ll warrant me.”

“Look you, master, a slug is a fat thing, and a slow, that feeds without working. Now, you see, I am as lean as a scarecrow, and, lame as I am, I will race thee for a breakfast.”

“Out, thou yellow-faced varlet; out, troop away; take thy gabble to the common, and pick thy breakfast with the geese.”

“Have me to thy home, and give me part of thy manchets: it will be all the same, for then I shall breakfast with the gander.”

[Pg 209]

Till this moment, neither of the parties had seen Martin; but no sooner did the aged and wandering son of Thespis espy his countenance and smile than he boldly came back, and accosted him:—“Most gallant Cavalier, for by the very curl of thy light beard I see thou art one, help me in my need. Thou seest that I am pricked with many thorns: help me, I say, and so may God help you, and cover your head in battle.”

The beadle turned round with surprise; but before he had time to utter a single word Martin had slipped into the hand of the wanderer a piece of silver; and as, at the very same moment, the door of the Jolly Woodcutter was opened by a stout serving wench, he escaped thanks and questions by entering the house.

“Silver, by my luck!—silver—and a broad piece! look you,” said the exulting wanderer; “now begone dull care: let us take no thought for to-morrow; we will begin our day with a morning’s draught of sack, next, we will be clean shaven, for money is a gentleman. We will have a pasty to our dinner, and be a lord[Pg 210] for the rest of the day. A broad piece! I will drink canary; and this young cavalier shall hear my recitations, and I will regale him with merry songs. There hangeth a viol de gamba in the barber’s shop, and there be a score of old play books on his shelf: we will have a rare evening. I will reward this young master: he hath breeding, and will take pleasure in my company; let to-morrow take care of itself, or let him take care of it for me: we will drink canary.” These resolutions, the natural fruit of Martin’s inconsiderate bounty, had well nigh disconcerted his quiet plan; but, luckily, the thoughtless player had drunk himself into a sound sleep before the evening chimes struck five.

[Pg 211]


These black clouds will overblowe;
Sunshine shall have his returning;
And my grief-wrung heart I know,
Into mirth shall change his mourning.
Psalm xiii.—Davison.

Martin Noble and his guide did not reach old Glastonbury till after sunset. Crossing one of the lower streets of the town, they passed into a suburb of scattered cottages; and turning up a narrow lane by one of those large stone barns that formerly belonged to the abbey, they stopped at the garden wicket of a small lone cottage. Martin stood without while his guide stepped gently forward, that the good parson and his lady might not be overcome by too sudden a surprise.

A light shone through the narrow casement: all objects around were shaded in the soft obscurity of a summer night: the air was perfume;[Pg 212] and all things seemed hushed into a stillness at once sweet and solemn. Martin passed the wicket with a trembling step and a throbbing heart; and ere he reached the door he was met in the path and folded to a father’s heart. Another moment, and he was pressed again to that bosom on which he had hung in helpless infancy. Now the lamp was held up by his father, and his hair was parted from his forehead by his mother’s hand, and her eyes rested upon his face and scanned his form; and he felt the unutterable bliss of being the child of such parents. They took him by the hand, and made him kneel with them before God, while they fervently thanked him for his mercy, “which endureth for ever.” After a brief pause, they rose; and as Martin looked round on the mean and scanty accommodations of the poor hovel which they inhabited, and then remarked the calm and contented expression of countenance which they both wore, he was lost in astonishment.

“Is it possible,” he exclaimed, “father, that[Pg 213] you have no better dwelling than this? Alas! how much must my dear mother undergo.”

“Your mother, Martin, never had more equal spirits or more regular health than in this humble and obscure cottage. She makes me and herself as happy as, under the painful circumstances of the land, any persons can or ought to be.” Here the old couple looked in each other’s eyes, with that calm fondness which is the fruit of love long tried, and lately quickened by the rude storms of persecution and poverty. But it is to be borne in mind, that in such and all like cases, in times of trouble and confusion, there may be suffering, but there cannot be shame. That which is commonly the most bitter ingredient of an indigent condition is altogether wanting: there cannot be shame: neither the sense of it, in those who are reduced to the extremities of need, nor one thought of it in the minds of those who look upon the necessities of their fallen fortunes. Their rags are honest: they can tread the clay floor of a common straw-roofed hut with as much pride as though it were a marble hall. Therefore, where there is health, and the physical[Pg 214] capability of endurance, and where no habits of softness, sensuality, and self-indulgence, have previously enslaved the spirit, and left it tied and bound as a despised victim to be tormented by discontent and peevishness, there will be found a cheerful resignation in the poorest circumstances. Here there was the grace of contentment in daily exercise. Old Noble and his wife were not only resigned but thankful for the blessings of food, shelter, and raiment, and they hopefully made the best of every thing around them.

“Martin,” said his father as he heard the wicket swing, “here is one of your oldest friends coming: you have not forgot Peter.”

“Lord love you, Master Martin,” said the old man as he entered, “I have heard of you:” here he took the offered hand, and bowed his head on it; then again looking up, resumed, “Well if it is not—yes,—no, well, I can’t make you out; why, how you are grown and altered! One thing’s right, I see,—you have not got your head clipped and shaved like a mule’s rump.” Here Peter caught a grave look on the face of[Pg 215] his master, and added, “Well, truth’s best spoken out: I don’t like ’em, the knaves, and I’ve reasons as plenty as blackberries. Didn’t they come a horseback into the church at the christening, and throw over the Font; and has not that prick-eared, tallow-faced rogue, and no parson, stuck it into the ground in our poultry yard, near the muck-heap, for the ducks to dabble in? and didn’t they drive you out of house and home, and throw your furniture out of window, and offer it for sale in the street? and didn’t they burn your favourite old books, and break the old lute, and make you and mistress trudge half a winter’s night in the mire? and worse than all, haven’t they bewitched Master Cuthbert, and changed his nature like, and made him against his own kin and his own king? Rot’em! No rogue like your godly rogue, my old mother was wont to say:—all saint without, all devil within. There, love you, dear master, don’t scold with your eyes in that fashion: ’an old dog cannot alter his way of barking.’ Come, I’ve coughed it all out, and it has done me good, and now for salt and[Pg 216] trenchers. I’ll warrant Master Martin has got hunger sauce for his supper.”

Herewith he set about covering the low table with a white napkin and clean trenchers, and produced from the basket a small mutton ham and some fine heads of sweet lettuce, and a loaf of the best wheaten bread; and setting on one side a small keg of ale, stood up with a look of pride and joy at his master’s back, and said, “To God’s gift, God send a good appetite.”

“How is this, Peter, whence is this?” asked old Noble.

“Why, master, it is from old Mrs. Blount. Wasn’t her good man—‘peace to his soul!’—wasn’t he a church-tenant, and his father’s father before him? and was there a day of your life that you hadn’t a kind word for him? and does not she know that you have got a stout young trencher-man come to you and nothing to set before him?”

“Well, well,—she is a warm-hearted woman, and always was. God reward her! but sit down, Peter: you and I are only fellow-labourers now; and if you did not handle the spade[Pg 217] better than I do, we should not have fared half so well as we have hitherto:—make him sit down, wife.”

“No,” said Peter, “’t was well enough sometimes o’ the long winter nights, when madam worked her needle-work and you were making nets, for old Peter to have a seat in the chimney-corner, and to hear your blessed voices, and take food from your own hands, and eat it by the same fire; but now, with Master Martin at home, we’ll soon have things right again.”

These few words of the honest and faithful Peter gave Martin a rude but strong outline of all that had been lately passing at home; and it was easy for him to fill in, from the fancy, a picture of the present state of England, by considering the evils to which his own parents had been exposed. As he saw in the person of his own father a pious son of the church, a true patriot, and a loyal subject, trampled under foot by a tyrannous parliament, degraded from his holy office, and ejected from his own house, he felt a deep thankfulness for the providential ordering that had kept him away from England[Pg 218] at a moment of excitement when, unsuspicious of the real aim and tendency of many of the measures of Parliament, he should probably have joined their banners. He was now plainly called to a very different course; and, as there he sat in the presence of his parents, his resolution was silently taken to share the fortunes of the royal army. These things swept across his mind swiftly, and gave no interruption to the glad flow of his spirits, as, sitting once again at table with a father and a mother, he took his cheerful meal, replying to all the questions they asked, and relating to them such passages of his travels and adventures as he thought might gratify or divert them.

When, however, his mother had retired, Martin questioned his father, with not a little anxiety, about the part which his brother had taken, and about the present condition of some of those families and friends whom he had hoped to have met again in happy intercourse. The answers to these inquiries did for the most part convey pain. His brother, it seemed, was among those devout but sincere[Pg 219] enthusiasts, who, offended with certain faults in the government of the church, and certain scandals in unworthy individuals among the clergy, desired a severe purification of the Establishment, and in their zeal for rooting out the tares, were destroying the wheat with them. Upon this subject old Noble was very mournful. He had been himself an epistle known and read of all men:—his life was so pure and exemplary—his habits so quiet—his pursuits so innocent—his teaching so plain and faithful—and his attention to the spiritual wants and the temporal necessities of his flock so constant and tender—that such of the neighbouring clergy as led less creditable lives had long regarded him as a Puritan. The worldly, to whom all tests were indifferent, and who were ready to embrace any profession of faith, and submit to any novelties, whether of doctrine or of discipline, necessary, by present law, to preserve their incomes in peace, had fully reckoned on the sheltering support of his name. But, to the surprize of all, save the few who knew him intimately, he was[Pg 220] found, in the hour of trial, in that humble and hallowed band which took cheerfully the spoiling of their goods for conscience-sake. It was past midnight before Martin and his father parted. In a small upper room, which took the shape of the sloping roof, Martin passed the night upon a clean pallet. He could sleep but little: through the open window came the grateful scent of the honeysuckle, and his eyes rested upon the stars. His broken slumbers were full of strange visions, that crowded on and away in such quick succession as to leave no connected impressions. Of some dear familiar face a sudden glimpse was caught, and lost so immediately as to be a grief; and a familiar voice heard soft and melodious, but the straining ear could catch no word; and then music exquisitely faint and plaintive; and then the stern trumpet, and darkness, and a crash, louder than any thunder, and so sleep frighted from the eyes, and a troubled awakening. But towards morning the blessing came:—a drowsiness stole upon him, and with it a delicious sense of fading consciousness. A sleep deep,[Pg 221] dreamless, and refreshing, was gently and pleasantly chased from his eyes by the play of the cheerful sunbeams; and through the open casement was poured the varied melody of little birds, that with clear sweet notes were sending up to heaven, with the white incense of the morning dew, their early song.

Martin sprang up with a grateful heart, and looked from the window. The mantling honeysuckle did half conceal him. Beneath the shade of an aged mulberry tree, by a cistern of water which flowed over at a rude lip of stone, and ran away to irrigate the plot of ground in which the cottage stood, sat his mother at her spinning-wheel. In a corner of the garden his father and old Peter were digging. This little bit of land, with a small orchard by its side, was the principal, though not the sole, support of his parents. In addition to the produce of his mother’s spinning, her skill in needle-work brought in something; and old Noble had long ago taught himself to make cabbage nets, twist fishing lines, and turn hackle into flies, with little thought that such pastime should one day[Pg 222] help him to buy bread. However, so many persons of ingenuity had fallen into poverty in these times, that a far walk might be taken, and a long stand might be made in a dull market-place, or at the corner of an inn yard, before a purchaser for such trifles could be found; indeed a sale for any thing beyond necessaries could not be reckoned on.

As Martin looked down upon this scene of repose, as he saw his parents safe, in health, and not subdued by circumstances, he could not but feel that the wind of adversity had been tempered to them by that God whose terrible blasts were abroad; that a plank was thrown to them in the storm; that the Father of all mercies was their refuge, and the shadow of his almighty wings was over them for comfort and for good. A pang came across him, as he thought upon his brother. A vista of calamity and war now opened before his startled fancy; but genuine philanthropy, and the love of true freedom, no less than his attachment to the altar and the throne, gave a call to his spirit to which he could not be deaf, and which he would[Pg 223] not disobey. However, he turned from all vain and dark forebodings to the contemplation of present happiness. It was a hallowed bliss to be again near those dear parents who had from his cradle loved and cherished him. Deep-felt pleasure is ever akin to melancholy; and thus it was, that, from excess of happiness, Martin could almost have wept, as he went down stairs, and freely did so as he felt his mother’s arms about his neck, and her kiss upon his cheek; but such tears are dried as soon as shed.

The morning rites were performed by his father with the same impressive tones, and the same hallowed composure, that he could remember as having often soothed the little troubles of his boyhood, and which did now again the like office, and calmed the strong but natural emotions of the man.

After their plain wholesome breakfast of milk and bread, Martin took his father aside, and made known to him the resolution which he had last night formed of immediately joining some division of the royal army as a volunteer. He entreated him not to utter one syllable[Pg 224] of objection or remonstrance, and not to feel any apprehension of his ever being brought into a distressing situation, as regarded Cuthbert. They should never meet, nor in any way be personally opposed to each other; and the circumstance of his having one son in arms against the King made it necessary that another should more truly represent his father, by being enrolled among the royal forces. He stated both his intentions and his means of carrying them into effect,—at the same time inviting the best advice which his father could offer as to the manner of his proceeding, and the leader whom he should join.

It was not without grief and reluctance that old Noble consented to be so immediately deprived of his gallant boy; and the mother was almost inconsolable at the thought of so early and sad a separation: but that same evening Martin took his departure for Bristol, that he might secure such baggage as he had brought with him from Italy, and equip himself for the camp.

[Pg 225]


But at my back I always hear
Time’s winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.

Although Bristol was at this time garrisoned by the Parliamentary troops, Martin Noble and old Peter, by whom he was accompanied, found no difficulty at the barriers, for the city was not besieged,—and being on foot, they entered without suspicion.

The doublet and cloak of Martin being cut in the Italian fashion, he easily passed in that large and busy port as one newly arrived from Leghorn and Genoa, and as one engaged in some commercial venture. His first care was to secure the little property which he had brought from Italy, and which, save one bag of a hundred pieces in ready money, consisted[Pg 226] entirely in paintings, drawings, and engravings, with a few antiques. The value of this small collection might have amounted to twelve hundred pieces. It was now necessary to part with these for whatever they might produce. His object being to send the whole price of them, beyond the sum necessary for his own equipment as a volunteer soldier of horse, to his parents. The captain and crew of the vessel in which he had returned home were all so cheerfully devoted to his interests, that he procured his baggage to be privately landed; and having unpacked and carefully arranged them in his apartment at a large inn near the quay, he went forth in search of a purchaser. He had not far to seek: the contents of an open shop kept by a Venetian in that same quarter at once pointed out whither many a collection of those curious toys of human invention, whether in the fine arts or in plate or furniture, round which the strange children of manhood will fasten fondness, already lay in dull divorce from the pleasant chambers they had once adorned. The broker consented to go to the[Pg 227] inn and look at his pictures with a cold and wily slowness. There was only one small original which had been given Martin; the rest were exquisite copies, executed by his brother artists or himself. The engravings and the articles of virtu (many of them presents) were selected with the finest taste; and a magical feeling was associated in the breast of Martin with every trifle or scrap in his portfolios. Though his mind was healthy and strong, and the necessity of the sacrifice was obvious, yet he could bear no work of bargaining, no words of depreciation. He bade the dealer look them over silently, and take them at his own price. Nor was he at all disappointed when the sum of three hundred and fifty pieces were paid down for little heart treasures, from which, in happier circumstances, he would at no price have consented to be separated. Of this sum he despatched two hundred and fifty, by the safe hands of old Peter, to his parents, and the remainder, with what he had already by him, was amply sufficient to purchase a horse, a handsome buff coat, and good arms.

[Pg 228]

During his residence in Italy, to relieve the sedentary labours of the studio, he had always used horse exercise, fencing, and the play of the broad sword, and having a vigorous and comely person and a quick eye, had great skill in all these exercises. He little thought in those days that he must exchange the wonderful art to which his genius was wedded for that of war; the peaceful studio and the open landscape for the noisy camp and the cloudy battle-field.

He effected his departure from Bristol, and his journey to the headquarters of the Marquis of Hertford and Prince Maurice, who were then coming westward, with considerable address. By a few pieces well bestowed he obtained passports as a foreign artist for London; and, lading a sumpter-horse with two packages in which his great saddle and his arms were well concealed, he rode his trained horse in such furniture and clothing, and with such a bridle, as disguised its quality. Moreover, by avoiding the large towns, and travelling circuitous ways, through many of those lovely coombes or valleys with which the western counties abound, he[Pg 229] exposed himself to as little observation as was possible. He slept in lonely places under a tree, and he snatched his refreshment through the day at farm-houses or little rustic inns. There was a consciousness in his bosom, that of this brief and precious season of his life the most was to be made. The weaning was at hand: the trials and the solemn chances of warfare lay before him in all their stern reality. The glorious arts were left behind as childish things; and he was passing through those scenes of nature in which the love of heaven is plainly mirrored. He loved the beautiful; in all things loved it: but, alone in the far windings of a sheltered vale, where trees and grass and waters blend their beauties; where cattle lie down, and the white lamb gambols,—with tears of thanksgiving he worshipped. Nor less in the still secluded forest, where rivulets make gentle music, he worshipped. Such spots are sacred: they are not solitudes; they are peopled, most thickly peopled, with innocent spirits, whom we cannot see; but we feel their presence, and tread softly in their quiet paradise. It was the[Pg 230] last leisure of Martin’s life, and the sweet scenes coloured his mind for ever; and afterwards, in coarse companies, and in the tumultuous camp, his memory would steal away back to those vales of peace, as to some hallowed visions, and lie awhile entranced, till laughter loud, or cannon’s voice, did wake him. It was on this journey that he for the last time exercised the art he loved.

In a deep still valley, with wooded hills on either side, and a small clear river that flowed between them, he stopped at noon before a solitary farm. The goodwife made him welcome. In her little hall she spread his clean repast, and there, in the window, sat her daughter with a child in her arms. It were easy to see she was its mother. If ever face was sweet and comely,—if ever eyes were calm, and brow was open,—if ever human forehead looked meet for the seal of Heaven, hers did, as it shone fair and pure beneath her dark and parted hair. The child, too, was of curly and surpassing beauty, and stretched its little arms with smiles. The obeisance of this young mother was modest,[Pg 231]—but her blush was faint, and innocence itself. A sampler framed in oak hung upon the wall. Martin asked if it was her work, and she said “Yes—the prize sampler worked in her ninth year,”—and took it down; and, in fine needle-work, he read the following lines:—

“Even as a nurse, whose child’s imperfect pace
Can hardly lead his foot from place to place,
Leaves her fond kissing, sets him down to go,
Nor does uphold him for a step or two;
But, when she finds that he begins to fall,
She holds him up and kisses him withal.
So God from man sometimes withdraws his hand
Awhile, to teach his infant faith to stand;
But when he sees his feeble strength begin
To fail, he gently takes him up again.”

He put it down, subdued to a sudden tenderness, and then asked the name of her child; she said it was christened “Charles,” and then caressed it more closely, and sighed; adding, “It’s a good name, but it has brought me my first sorrow, for it’s with King Charles my husband is; and they that go to the wars may never come back again.”

[Pg 232]

She resumed her seat in the window; and, putting down the child, who could run stoutly about after his grandmother, she began to ply her needle in silence. Here, as her head was naturally bent downwards, Martin sketched a happy resemblance of her on his tablets, while she, unconscious, sat thinking of her fond husband far away, and daily exposed to wounds or death. Martin rode away from this dwelling; and, and at some distance, looking back, through a summer shower he saw it arched over by a glorious rainbow, and asked a blessing on that fair young mother from the God of hope.

Thus and here he took leave of peaceful life for ever. That same evening his horses’ hoofs were clattering over the pavement of a small town in Dorsetshire, filled with royal troopers; and, finding that Robert Dormer, the Earl of Caernarvon, was there in person, his journey was at an end. He had brought a particular letter of introduction to this youthful nobleman from one of his near relatives, then residing at Rome, in a declining state of health, and had been also intrusted to deliver to him a curious[Pg 233] antique ring as a token of the abiding love and friendship of a dying man. The letter spoke very favourably of Martin; but was not written with any expectation that it would be presented under circumstances and with an object like those which now induced Martin to deliver it. He had engaged at Bristol a sprightly young horse-boy, who had whistled his long marches cheerfully by the side of the sumpter-horse, and who was not a little delighted at being now permitted to unpack saddle and equipments, and to see Martin put on a buff coat and a royal scarf. As soon as our volunteer was dressed, he proceeded to the quarters of Lord Caernarvon, sent up his letter and name, was instantly admitted, and met with a kind reception.

The evening was cheerless and rainy, and the Earl was engaged at the game of tables, now better known by the name of backgammon, with a gentleman of a very fine person, about his own age, while a bright eyed youth of seventeen sat eagerly watching the game.

The Earl gave Martin a friendly look, and bade him take a seat till the game was done; for[Pg 234] he had already satisfied himself, by a glance, that it was a letter on private affairs, though he had not opened it.

“You are from Bristol, young man. What news among our friends in that neighbourhood, or rather among our enemies within?”

“I was so situated, my Lord, that I am not so well acquainted with the condition of the garrison, or the state of the place, as your Lordship. My sole business there was to get my baggage out of the vessel in which I came from Italy, to equip myself for camp, and to join the royal army.”

“From Italy!” said Lord Caernarvon; “indeed! From what part?”

“I sailed from the port of Leghorn; but came from Rome only a few days before.”

“Here, Arthur,” said the Earl, “take my place, and finish the game.—Sir Charles, you will excuse me.”

He now took his letter to the window, and immediately read it with attention. Then approaching Martin, he took him cordially by the hand.

[Pg 235]

“I am afraid to ask how you left Edward Herbert; for in this letter he seems to consider his recovery as impossible.”

“I am sorry to say, my Lord, that he is a dying man; but he suffers very little pain, and is as calm and resigned as any person under such circumstances can be. I am the bearer of his last token of affection for the Lady Caernarvon.”

Here he drew forth a small case, containing a signet ring, of great antiquity. Upon the stone, which was a clear beryl, the engraved symbol was a genius, with an inverted torch.

As Lord Caernarvon was silently and thoughtfully examining this gem, the door of the apartment was opened by a grave, mournful looking gentlemen in a neglected dress, who said,—

“Well, Caernarvon, I shall start at eleven, on my return to the King’s quarters, and will direct the escort to march back to you after they have halted eight hours. I shall only take them thirty miles; and as there is a moon, we shall have a pleasant ride. What have you got in your hand?” he added, observing the ring.

[Pg 236]

“It is is a farewell token from Edward Herbert to his cousin Sophia: if you remember, Falkland, the youth was a great favourite of yours.”

Lord Falkland took the ring, and looked upon it in silence for more than two minutes, then gave it back to Caernarvon with a sigh, and going close to the window, from which Caernarvon had advanced, Martin distinctly heard him ingeminate the word “Peace, peace,” while he raised his eyes towards the rainy sky. Yet was the tone of voice so low, and it came so deeply from within, that nobody else could distinguish what he uttered; and no one seemed to notice the inarticulate sound, as if it was a habit of grief and abstraction common to the man.

Caernarvon himself was not in spirits the whole evening,—though, as a party of more than twelve were assembled at his supper table, he was necessarily engaged in much conversation on the state and prospects of the war.

However, before this hour he introduced Martin in a particular manner to Sir Charles[Pg 237] Lambert and Arthur Heywood, when they had finished their game; and he presented him to the Lord Falkland, who was very gracious,—but told him with a mournful smile that he must for awhile forget the fair creations of Raphael, and prepare himself for the study of severer subjects.

His relationship to Cuthbert Noble was soon discovered by young Arthur; and it would have been impossible for him to have received more cordial and friendly attentions than both Sir Charles and the boy readily offered. They expressed their sorrow in a delicate yet becoming manner that Cuthbert should be in the ranks of the Parliamentary army, and congratulated Martin, as well as themselves, on the probability that they should be spared the pain of acting, for the present, against that division of the enemy’s force with which he was known to be serving, as their own march lay westward, to join the Cornish army.

Martin rode with the regiment of horse commanded by Lord Caernarvon, as a volunteer, and soon became a favourite with that[Pg 238] nobleman, whose excellent example in the office and duty of a soldier it was his pride to imitate. Moreover, this nobleman took delight in the society of the youth, because he himself had, before the war, been a great traveller, and an exact observer of the manners of many nations; not only visiting the south of Europe, but also Turkey and other countries of the East. Therefore, in as far as any alleviating happiness could consist with a campaign life, in a warfare carried on in the heart of one’s own country, Martin was fortunate.

Nor is it to be denied that genius has so many sources of enjoyment that in no condition can they be all dried up. To love the beautiful in all things is a high privilege; and feelings of rapture, as of awe, may be extracted from objects which only impress ordinary minds with pain or terror. If the calm lake, the green valley, and the pale primrose soothe us with sweet pictures of peace, the stormy ocean, the rifted rock, and the blasted tree, can and do stir us with a deep delight. Thus war has[Pg 239] its glories and its solemnities for the eye and for the ear of man; and his heart may throb with emotions the most sublime upon a battle-field, and at the wailing trumpets of a vanquished and a flying foe.

[Pg 240]


Lastly stoode warre in glitteryng armes yclad,
With visage grym, sterne lookes, and blackely hewed;
In his right hand a naked sworde he had,
That to the hiltes was al with bloud embrewed.

The zeal and fidelity of Francis Heywood, in that perplexity and trouble of the Earl of Essex which were caused by the desertion of Colonel Hurry at Thame, and by the information that he gave to Prince Rupert, were so conspicuous, and he rendered such gallant and eminent service in that unfortunate field of Chalgrave, in which Mr. Hampden fell, that he was promoted to a colonelcy of horse soon after.

The army of Essex having been much weakened by the successful enterprises of Prince Rupert, and being also more wasted by sickness, the Earl moved from Thame towards[Pg 241] London, and quartered his troops about St. Alban’s. Here Francis Heywood met with a very unfortunate adventure, which ended by his taking away the life of a brother officer; but the origin of the dispute and the fatal issue of it were such, that, even by a regular trial before a court of Puritan officers, he was most honourably acquitted.

It chanced that as he was passing before the abbey of St. Alban’s a little after dusk, he saw a drunken and noisy procession of the rabble coming along by torchlight. He stopped to see what they were doing: when they approached close to him, his anger and disgust were strongly excited by observing a lewd wretch in a cope trailing in the dirt, with a service book in his hand, singing, as in scorn, the solemn words of the church litany, amid the derision and jeers of the base fellows around him. Francis darted through the crowd and dealt the impious knave a blow which laid him dumb in the gutter; and calling a corporal who came in sight had him picked up and confined in a guard-house for the night. It turned out that[Pg 242] this rogue was a common soldier in the regiment of Sir Roger Zouch, to whom such a representation of the circumstance was made that he took up the matter in great wrath, and sent Colonel Heywood a challenge. Francis immediately sought an interview with Sir Roger, to explain and justify what he had done. This furious fanatic not only defended and lauded the crime of his soldier, but, in a paroxysm of rage, deaf to every argument, rushed on Francis sword in hand; while the latter kept retreating and expostulating, till at length he was obliged to draw his sword in self-defence.

A home-thrust now soon put a period to Sir Roger’s life. Fortunately, this contest took place in the open space near the Abbey, and in the presence of many respectable witnesses both of the army and the town; and these cheerfully came forward and deposed to the necessity under which Francis was laid to defend himself.

This circumstance made a great impression upon Francis; for though he stood acquitted in his conscience of all blame, and though he felt[Pg 243] opposed in heart to such a mischievous spirit as that evidenced by Sir Roger, yet it forced him to consider that it was against such men that the sincere churchmen in the royal ranks were honourably fighting. However, he did not slack in his zeal for that cause for which Hampden had already poured out his life-blood; but he confined himself strictly to the duties of his particular command, and, both by example and authority, enforced good discipline and quiet conduct among his own troopers. He occasionally saw Cuthbert, but had now little comfort or satisfaction from those interviews. In gloom and in sadness of spirits that unhappy man wore away his days: his temper had become embittered and stern; and he was ever unquiet and restless except in the field, where he delighted to expose himself to every chance of death. It has, however, been often observed, that that black tyrant, insatiate as he is, delights to pass by the wretched, and transfix the bosoms of those whose hopes are in the full blossom of promise. Of this war is ever furnishing examples.

In a temper of mind very different from that[Pg 244] of his brother did Martin Noble make his campaign under Caernarvon.

About the middle of June, Prince Maurice and the Marquis of Hertford, with sixteen hundred horse, one thousand foot, and eight field pieces, marched to Chard, a fair town of Somersetshire, on the borders of Devon, and effected their junction with the Cornish army, which consisted of three thousand foot, eight hundred horse, and four guns. This force soon possessed itself of Taunton, Bridgewater, and Dunstar Castle, without bloodshed. Not long after they marched upon Wells, where a respectable body had been drawn together by the parliament officers, Popham, Strode, and others: these retired from the city as the Marquis of Hertford advanced against it, and drew up on the top of Mendip Hill; and, waiting till the royal horse came on the same level in front of them, pursued their retreat leisurely, and in good order. The King’s horse followed them, till they having to pass through a lane, near Chewton, were compelled, before their entrance into that defile, to leave their reserve fronted.[Pg 245] The Earl of Caernarvon, who was always in the van, and always charged home, perceiving this advantage, rode hard at them, entered the lane with them, routed the whole body of their horse, and did good execution on them for two miles. But the enemy being reinforced by a fresh strong party of horse and dragoons, which, by the cover of a hedge, had joined them without being discovered, rallied, charged, and pressed Caernarvon in his turn, who was now forced to retire through the village and lane, and fall back on the Prince’s party, drawn up on the open heath.

Though somewhat broken and chafed, his men rallied stoutly on the Prince’s flank; and when the enemy came up, though now very superior in numbers, the Prince and the Earl, seeing the danger of a retreat over those open hills, took the brave resolution to charge them. This was so vigorously done by the Prince, and so briskly seconded by Caernarvon, that after a close and fierce mêlée, sword to sword, the enemy were driven from the field, and chased by Caernarvon again till set of sun.

[Pg 246]

This stirring and brilliant action of cavalry was Martin’s first trial; and he acquitted himself in a manner so spirited and valiant, as won the warm praise of his gallant patron. He received two hurts, and was beaten off his horse; but as the army rested many days at Wells, and his wounds were only sword-cuts, he was sufficiently recovered to be on horseback again before they marched forward. In the battle of Lansdown, on July the 5th, he gained fresh reputation; for, having been twice engaged in the early part of that action against the famous regiment of cuirassiers, by which the King’s horse were so amazed and staggered, and having shown the most invincible courage in trying to restore confidence to the routed troopers, he was, in the last advance against the hill, dismounted, his horse being killed under him. He was himself at the moment immediately on the right of those brave Cornish pikes which Sir Bevil Greenvil was leading up. He, catching up the pike of a fallen soldier, fell into those ranks, by whom the summit of the hill was soon won, and maintained throughout that[Pg 247] bloody evening. Night fell upon both hosts, tired, battered, and contented to stand still; but before morning Sir William Waller withdrew to Bath, and the field of battle, the dead, and other ensigns of victory, were left with the King’s army.

His next service was at Roundway Down, where Sir William Waller suffered so great a defeat as very much clouded his affairs and all his previous reputation. Early in August, Francis was with that army which sat down before Gloucester; but, as the horse are for the most part only lookers on at the operations of a siege, he here enjoyed a certain interval of leisure. At this period he contracted a close intimacy with young Arthur Heywood, and he had a strange pleasure in conversing with the youth about his brother Cuthbert. They two would ride together the circuit of the leaguer, observing the batteries and approaches, and watching the play of the cannon both on and from the city; or they would choose unfrequented roads, which led into valleys near where there was no sight of camp or town; or[Pg 248] in tent or camp hut they would sit together for hours, and often as they did so, the name of Cuthbert came up, and the one recollected the brother of his boyhood, and the other, the kind and gentle tutor, who first woke him to good thoughts,—and it became a cement of love between them; and while they deplored the course which Cuthbert had taken, their hearts were full of affection for him. Nor was any one more forward to do justice to his many excellent qualities than Sir Charles Lambert, when he chanced, as he often did, to make one of the tent party.

Sir Charles was, as Arthur told Martin, a changed man from the period when his brother first knew him; and no one that had seen the grave, the manly, and thoughtful deportment of Sir Charles, the loyal and devoted officer, could have deemed it possible that he was the same person who had once invited and deserved their suspicions and their contempt.

However, after lying nearly a month before Gloucester, and making little progress in the siege, the King was roused by the news[Pg 249] that Essex was advancing to relieve the city. A last effort was decided on: the town had been most ably defended by Colonel Massey, the governor, who had made many bold and effective sallies, and interrupted the labours of the siege with good success; but the garrison was now reduced to great extremities for want of ammunition; therefore the King battered the town heavily for thirty-six hours, made a fair breach, and tried an open assault. The attempt was boldly made, and the breach mounted, but, after a bloody conflict, the storming-party was beaten back again. In this last affair Martin and Arthur were looking on at the assault, when a cannon bullet struck and shattered the leg of the latter, so that he was forced to have his limb amputated considerably above the knee,—a most painful operation, which he bore with a cheerful courage and composure. Thus did the service of this noble boy suddenly end, he being made a cripple for life, and no longer able to share the honourable toils of warfare or to partake ever again of the pleasant and joyous exercises natural to his age. The helplessness[Pg 250] incident to the last season of life fell suddenly upon him, and made him prematurely old. Martin parted from him as he lay in hospital with tears in his eyes, and they never met again: however, Arthur was removed with other wounded to a place of safety, and when sufficiently recovered was sent to Oxford. Meantime the siege of Gloucester was raised; and, when Essex marched into that joyful town, he found them reduced to a single barrel of powder, and other provisions nearly exhausted. He stayed three days in the place, after which his care was to retire again to London without encountering the King’s army. He made a night march from Tewksbury to Cirencester, where he surprised two regiments of the royal horse, and found a great quantity of the King’s provisions; hence he made his route through the deep and enclosed country of North Wiltshire direct for London. However, Prince Rupert, with five thousand horse, by incredible diligence and forced marches, got between London and the enemy, and detained him till the King, with his main army, came to Newbury.

[Pg 251]

The forces of Essex being now intercepted in their movement, it was not the interest or wish of the King to engage in a battle, except on his own terms and with choice of his own ground; but when, on the morning of the 18th of September, the hot spirits in the royal army saw the host of Essex drawn up in fair battle array within a mile, and when they heard the beating of their drums and the breath of defiance from their trumpets, they would not be contained, and some young leaders of strong parties got so far engaged that the King was compelled to fight a general action.

Never did hostile forces meet with greater fierceness and resolution. The field was obstinately disputed throughout the day, and night alone parted the combatants. The foot of Essex had maintained their ground with admirable steadiness; and the bold charges of Rupert and the royal horse could make no impression on their stand of pikes. One of the regiments most frequently exposed to these desperate assaults was that of Maxwell, where[Pg 252] Cuthbert commanded a company of pikes. This corps, after having endured a storm of bullets from a body of the King’s musketeers in the last attack of the royal forces before sunset, was come upon suddenly, and at a disadvantage, by some squadrons of horse, and broken in upon. Nearly half their numbers were cut to pieces; but the rest, being well rallied, resisted, and slew many of the horsemen that were intermixed with them, and finally drove off the enemy.

No one exerted himself in this most critical juncture with more energy and sternness than Maxwell; and Cuthbert showed in that difficulty a noble example to his men. His sword had already been plunged into the horse of an assailant with such force, that by the action of the wounded beast he had been disarmed, and another horseman was rushing towards him. He discharged his pistol swiftly, yet with an aim so true, that the young Cavalier was borne past him reeling in the saddle, and thrown violently to the earth.

When this short and confused conflict between[Pg 253] the pikemen and the royal horse was over, and there came a breathing time, and a pause in the fighting at that spot, Cuthbert, who marked where his last opponent fell, left his ranks, and hastened (it was not many yards away) to his succour. The young man, bareheaded and pale, lay upon the ground: his bright hair was dabbled with blood—not his own, but that of other combatants who had been slain near him: a pistol shot had reached his gallant heart; the courageous and gentle spirit had fled.

“Nothing can be done for him,” said Randal, for whom Cuthbert had called,—“come away.”

“Surely, surely there can,” answered Cuthbert, in an agony, strange and unaccountable even to himself.

“Nothing, I tell you: he is dead.”

“Well, then, I will take care of the body, and bury it.”

“Let the dead bury the dead,” said Randal.

“The battle is not over yet. Hark! there is the drum beating to fall in.”

Cuthbert heard it, and the loud voice of[Pg 254] Maxwell, and saw the men rushing to their arms. He hurried to his post; and there, as he stood, saw stragglers coming in, who stopped and stooped upon the very spot where the body of the youth lay, as if to rifle it. His regiment was at the same moment faced to the left, and moved a quarter of a mile off to new ground. Here they halted and stood at ease.

Now came rumours how that great and good men had fallen on the King’s side; that the gallant Caernarvon had been slain by the sword, and that a bullet had taken the life of the noble Falkland.

The trumpets did seem to wail them, they sounded so desolate and mournful as the shades of evening came on. As soon as he could get away, Cuthbert again hurried to the place where the corpse of his own particular victim lay. He got a torch, and searched the body, if haply he might find a name: in the bosom next the heart there lay the miniature of a girl of calm pure beauty; from the features and the costume, it seemed that of an Italian. Cuthbert sighed, and continued his search for some[Pg 255] paper that might give a name. At last, in the breast pocket of the doublet beneath his buff coat, he found a letter:—the address was “Martin Noble,”—the handwriting was that of his own father.

[Pg 256]


Lead us from hence; where we may leisurely
Each one demand, and answer to his part
Perform’d in this wide gap of time.
Winter’s Tale.

It is not necessary to the after-story of the persons in our domestic drama that the various fortunes of that unnatural war, which desolated England for so many years, should be further related.

From the bloody field of Newbury, of which we have already spoken, to the close of that mighty and memorable contest which convulsed the whole kingdom, our tale pauses. The imagination of the reader must pass with us in haste across that afflicting season of violence and woe to consider the first-fruits of that harvest, the seed of which had been sown in the whirlwind of human passions, and had been watered by torrents of human blood.

[Pg 257]

But some slight notices of what passed during this interval among our various characters—a faint outline of their doings, and of the positions which they occupied—may not be without some interest. From the period when we last mentioned him, the health of Sir Oliver declined: he grew infirm; and besides gout he had other complaints, which produced a morbid action in his system, and made him alternately gloomy and lethargic, or sensitive and irritable to excess. Any bad news, a disagreeable incident, a chance crossing of his will, made him angry and out of temper with every person and thing around him. All this Katharine bore with a prayerful composure of the spirit, and was often rewarded by subduing her unreasonable father into sincere and affectionate confessions of that divine mercy, which did in so many things comfort and succour them in this season of common adversity and universal suffering. But there were trials to which she was occasionally exposed that drove her away in agony of spirit, and with a[Pg 258] silent step, to her closet, where she might weep alone.

Sir Oliver had been informed, through the officious and mischievous agency of one of those busy old ladies who had forced their acquaintance on the family, first, that Francis Heywood had been in Oxford with Lord Say’s horsemen, and, next, that he had had an interview on the bank of the river with Mistress Katharine. She contrived, moreover, in her relation of the story, under a pretence of feeling for the young people, and of its being so natural and so romantic, to insinuate that it was a prettily concerted meeting. It is not to be denied that she had some materials on which to build up the fabric of her falsehood: for she had seen Jane and Katharine walking in the meadow; she had seen Francis Heywood leap from the boat; and when he came forth from the avenue which concealed both the ladies as well as himself, and walked swiftly into the city, he had passed close under the window of her summer house.

There is a dignity and there is an earnestness[Pg 259] in a genuine spirit of truth which command belief and compel admiration. No sooner, therefore, did Sir Oliver first mention to Katharine what he had heard than she told him, with all plainness, in how sudden and unexpected a manner Francis and herself met. She told him in part what had passed between them, and excused herself for not telling him of the interview, by reminding him how very much the sight of her cousin’s name in the newspaper had discomposed and excited him; and how, in his own judgment, it had exasperated the symptoms of his disease. By these explanations the old knight was at once satisfied and quieted. Her remonstrance with Francis put aside at the moment all suspicion. At her particular request, he promised that Francis and his politics should be an interdicted name and a forbidden subject. But this resolution was soon broken; for when he heard that Milverton House was burnt down, for a fortnight the name was constantly on his lips, and was always coupled with the most angry and contemptuous language,[Pg 260] if not by maledictions of a more fearful nature.

At such moments, a sense of his own impotent condition, which forbade him to join the camp, would press upon his mind, till it produced paroxysms of frantic rage. By these temptations a temper less heavenly than that of Katharine’s would have been fretted into resistance and contention,—a faith less firm and exalted would have failed. But ever as the tempests of his mind subsided, Sir Oliver felt shame in her angelic presence. He could not indeed apprehend the high order of her mental force; but he could appreciate those solid principles of filial affection that enabled her to endure all things, to hope all things, and that replied to bitter words only by the kindest services, and by the most studious desires to content and cherish him. Through sickness, through pain, through greater reverses of fortune than they at first experienced,—under circumstances which compelled a great abridgement of all their ordinary comforts,—the daughter shone as if she[Pg 261] had been some ministering spirit of love and patience, to whom a charge of peculiar difficulty had been assigned. Nor was this trial of her patience brief. It was not till the winter of 1647 that her chastised parent was removed from his scene of suffering and taken to his rest. The last two months of his existence were, however, marked by a change of temper and conduct very affecting to all who witnessed it; and this proved a reward and consolation to Katharine herself beyond all expectation. Hope, indeed, had never forsaken her; for her hope was ever anchored beneath the mercy seat of that Redeemer who is mighty to save. The old knight became gentle, penitent, tearful:—listened with earnestness to the word of life—was much in meditation—became tender as a little child—was full of thanksgiving and gratitude to his Christian daughter, and expired in her arms in peace. His end was only marked by one painful circumstance,—a last weakness and prejudice, that clung to him even when the approach[Pg 262] of death was manifest, and eternity in view. He declared that he died in true and perfect charity with all men, and with Francis and his father more especially; but he made a request to Katharine, that she would solemnly promise, under no change of circumstances whatever, to give her hand in marriage to her cousin Francis. He confessed to her that, two years before, he had intercepted a letter from him to her address; in which, though he did not suppose them to be responded to by her, his sentiments of love were set forth in plain and melancholy words. Katharine gave the promise required with a low firm voice, and received upon a pale and trembling cheek the cold kiss that thanked her.

The Heywoods had remained in Oxford through both the sieges, and in that city Sir Oliver died. Arthur Heywood, feeling himself by the loss of his limb disabled for all future service in the field, had again entered at his college, and prepared himself by diligent and cheerful study for embracing the profession of[Pg 263] the law, whenever the distracted kingdom should be once more in a state of repose. George Juxon had been for the most part in the field, having accompanied the army of the King as the volunteer chaplain of a regiment of horse; but in the winter of 1645 he made Jane Lambert his own by those sweet and sacred ties which the church sanctifies and records. Katharine stood by her at the altar with that pure and perfect joy which hath its only outward expression in grave and loving looks. For her comfort, Jane was still spared to her as a companion,—a consolation greatly needed, and most thankfully enjoyed; for her domestic trials were of that petty and painful nature, that do especially wear and weary the most generous spirits.

The name of Francis did never reach her ear save through some public channel, and that being commonly a newspaper, printed for the Royalists, she did only gather that he had been present on some fields where there had been obstinate fighting and great loss of lives. The thought of his being slain was one painfully familiar[Pg 264] to her in the still night when she lay awake and prayed for him. Then again came other news in the morning, and his name mentioned as one still riding at the head of squadrons, and present, it would seem, and among the foremost wherever swords were drawn, and service to be done. Afterwards, for months she might not hear his name:—if he was dead, she did not know it; if he was living, she did not know it; and all these silent anxieties most deeply wrought upon her suffering spirit.

At the death of Sir Oliver, the King being now a captive, and the royal cause (which had never looked up since the fatal battle of Naseby) on all sides declining, Katharine consented, at the earnest entreaty of Jane, to accompany the Juxons to Cottesmore, in the county of Gloucester; near which place the venerable uncle of George had an estate and a private dwelling. It was her intention to wait patiently the full end of all troubles or commotions before she attempted to fix her future residence; and then, upon the settlement of her family affairs, to summon back to her that little[Pg 265] orphan girl, just shown at the commencement of this story. That sweet child had been securely placed with the widow of a clergyman in one of the most secluded valleys of Derbyshire, where, safe even from the sounds of war, she had been reared in peace, and educated with religious care. This arrangement had been made by Mistress Alice before her death, from an apprehension that unquiet days were coming; and ample provision for the support of the child had been lodged in the hands of a secure agent in that county.

It was the plan of Katharine, whenever she might again take possession of the Warwickshire estates, to build and endow a college for the widows of clergymen on the site of the ruined mansion of Milverton, and to pass the rest of her days in some quiet and suitable retreat near Kenilworth. But it is premature to speak of the time and manner of a retirement which was not to be realised till yet greater trials than those she had hitherto experienced should come.

[Pg 266]


He nothing common did nor mean
After that memorable scene;
But with his keener eye
The axe’s edge did try:
Nor call’d the gods, with vulgar spite,
To vindicate his helpless right;
But bow’d his comely head
Down as upon a bed.

From the hour of his brother’s untimely death Cuthbert led a life of crazed care and religious melancholy. He retired to London, but he avoided all his former acquaintances. He lodged in an obscure alley, and wandered about during the day without any apparent aim or object, when not compelled to some slight exertion to provide bread for the passing day. His resource on these occasions was a Puritan printer, to whom his Cambridge tutor, now dead, had very favourably introduced him before the breaking out of the war, and who,[Pg 267] from compassion to his troubled state of mind, gave him such small and easy employments as might not only contribute to his support but might avail to divert his melancholy, and to restore the strength of his shattered intellect. He was not, however, to be engaged in any undertaking which long confined him at home or to a house. He had become one of those rueful objects, of which a few may be found in all large cities, and in the fields and parks in their vicinity. They stray about at will; stand near the crowded pageant; and though they seem to look upon it earnestly, are perfectly unconscious whether it is a funereal procession or the lord mayor’s show. They gaze fixedly at buildings and at persons; but the former are to them as clouds, and the latter as trees walking. From frequent and careless exposure to chilling rains, and from his long fasts and the scantiness and irregularity of his meals, his health had suffered seriously: he had a settled cough; and he was so emaciated and altered in the face that hardly any body would have recognised him. Moreover, the change in his[Pg 268] appearance had extended to his dress, which was old, threadbare, and torn. Such was the melancholy figure that came into churches, and sat down upon the benches of the middle aisle, not conscious why he was avoided by the more decent poor, why none but some Lazarus full of sores would take a seat beside him. He hung as a blighted leaf upon the social tree,—a sad memento that man is born to trouble, and that sooner in sorrow, or later in death, all the leaves must fade.

Upon that black day in the calendar of England’s history, the 30th of January, 1648, when the last act in the tragic drama of the civil war was presented in public before an afflicted and indignant people, Cuthbert stood among the gloomy and anxious crowd which was gathered round the scaffold at Whitehall. Several regiments of horse and foot were posted near the place of execution, as much to keep the people from hearing their king’s last words as to observe and control their temper. The mind of Cuthbert had been roused from its long lethargy by the various news and rumours connected[Pg 269] with the trial of the King, which had been circulated within the last fortnight around him; and he came along with the multitude on this day, not believing that they would dare execute Charles, and that if it were attempted, a rescue would be effected. The day was piercing cold, and the keen wind searched through his threadbare cloak; and he leaned back against a wall, a pale shadow of misery, feeble and trembling. He knew not why he was there, or what he was to do, but when he had seen the strong populace hastening to Whitehall, he had followed a helpless expectant of some strange judgment or deliverance. His view of the place of execution was intercepted by the tall men who stood in front of him and by a trooper on horseback; and he remained still and silent, lost in thought and in confused prayers, till a movement and murmurs in the crowd awakened him to a consciousness of the dread scene which was going forward at a little distance.

“That’s his Majesty,” said one: “how noble he looks.”—“He’s speaking now,” said another.—“See how grand and straight he[Pg 270] stands up, and how he looks them all in the face.”—And from other voices came such remarks,—“See! the clergy is speaking to him.”—“Who is that parson?”—“’Tis a bishop, man.”—“Which?”—“Why honest old Juxon.”—“Look! the King has got his doublet off. God help his blessed Majesty! O for a few thousand good men and true!”—“Nay, nay, he’s saved. Look! they’re putting on his cloak again! Thank God! thank God!”—But the voice that had uttered this hope was soon hushed, and there was a dread silence,—the people held their breath. Suddenly there arose a loud and universal wail. At the sight of the royal head held up dripping with blood in the hands of the executioner, lamentations, and groans, and tears, and wringing of hands, did make a wild mourning such as became a nation’s remorseful woe. Cuthbert smote on his breast, and fell upon his knees, and lifted up his voice, and wept scalding tears, calling himself a murderer and an abetter of the King’s death,—one that had, like Judas, sold his master, and that his end would be the same,[Pg 271] and everlasting fire his portion. A knot of persons gathered about him; some of whom, as they heard his ravings, did half believe that he had been more particularly concerned in betraying the King, and looked upon him with horror, as on one suffering the just judgment of Heaven, while others pitied him, and thought him mad. But the troopers being now called upon to dismiss the crowd, two large bodies of horse moved up and down from King Street to Charing Cross, dispersing the folk that had gathered in the middle of the way, while a few single dragoons moved towards the various knots and groups, that still lingered near the walls and in corners, to drive them also away. One approached the small crowd which had collected around Cuthbert in his bewildered agonies; and, either really taking him for an impostor or for a designing person wanting to create a disturbance, came close and gave him a brutal blow with the flat of his sword, bidding him away to his own dunghill, and play his tricks with his fellow-beggars in Rosemary Lane. Upon this, a stout man near, who,[Pg 272] from his knit bonnet and coarse grey coat, looked like a woodman or a warrener from the country, struck the sword out of the trooper’s hand, and knocked him off his horse; and the mob would have had his life but for the prompt assistance of his comrades, a few of whom came up led by a sergeant, who, being a reasonable man that felt ashamed for the unsoldierly services of that sad morning, contented himself with releasing the soldier and advising the people to go quietly to their homes. The trooper had been so startled and stunned by the assault that he could not point out the person who struck him first, nor did the sergeant seize upon any one.

The stout man who had resented the blow inflicted on poor Cuthbert raised him up, and led him aside to a more private place, where, they two being alone together, he tried to make himself known, for he had already recognised the voice of Cuthbert; and his soul could, even on that day of public calamity, be filled with pity for this unhappy sufferer. It was George Juxon. Cuthbert, already in a kind of stupor,[Pg 273] produced by great mental excitement on a weak and exhausted frame, and the action of the severe cold of the day upon his naked head, looked vacantly at him, with incredulity and alarm; and Juxon saw that he was not only very ill but that his senses were wandering. He immediately took him home to his own lodgings in a quiet street near St. Paul’s Cathedral, and procured the help of a skilful and humane physician.

It was a week before Cuthbert was sufficiently restored to strength either of body or mind to recognise his protector; but when he did so, the face and voice of Juxon appeared to give him the power of recovering his scattered memories and unravelling his tangled thoughts. Nor were the features of Juxon the only ones he was enabled to recall among those kind preservers with whom he had been thus mercifully thrown at so critical a moment of his life.

Jane Lambert, now the wife of Juxon, was one of those who ministered to him in his sickness; and the countenance of Katharine Heywood, no longer radiant with youth, and health,[Pg 274] and hope, but still majestic and merciful as those of guardian angels, shone upon him with a mild and Christian pity. They all viewed Cuthbert as an erring child of a heavenly Father brought back to him by affliction; and they felt that to minister to his sorrows and his need, and to lead him gently to the green pastures and the still waters of Christ’s flock, was a sacred duty, and a sweet privilege.

The circumstances of those around him were sufficiently easy, considering the times, to enable them to place him again in his relative station as regarded temporal matters; and he learned with thanksgiving that his father and mother were safe and well, and had been so far assisted as to be comparatively comfortable in the small cottage in which they dwelt.

But it was long before Juxon prevailed with him to return to his father. At every mention of this duty he became silent and gloomy: from this trial he seemed to shrink with dejection and almost despair. His faith in the gracious promises of Scripture failed him,—and he thought his crimes of too black a dye for forgiveness.[Pg 275] One evening, especially, a man coming before the parlour windows and crying certain relics for sale, offered with a loud hoarse voice,—“Most precious remains of his late sacred Majesty of pious memory, warranted genuine, and dipped in his own blood.”

“Here be two locks of hair, master, and three strips of a handkerchief, all bloody, as you see,” said the knave, thrusting them across the rails towards the window where Mrs. Juxon and Cuthbert were sitting. At this sight the poor convalescent fainted, and suffered a relapse, which again disturbed his reason. But as the spring opened, his mind was restored to the vigour of his best days. He saw and embraced his privileges as a pardoned penitent, and he willingly prepared to return to his parents. It was plain, indeed, to himself as well as to Juxon, that his earthly pilgrimage could not be long, for consumption had set her deadly mark upon his cheek; and he was oppressed with a cough which he knew he must carry to the grave with him: but, grateful for the blessings of restored peace and hope,[Pg 276] he took his last farewell of Juxon, and set forward on his journey home.

He travelled down with a train of return pack horses to Bristol, and was five days upon the road. It was the middle of April, but the weather was cold, snowy, and ungenial;—as in some springs there is a brief season of summer heat, so in this there was that sharp and bitter check known among shepherds and countrymen by the name of the black thorn winter.

There was a heavy fall of snow on the very day that he rode from Bristol to Glastonbury; and when he alighted at the small hostel where he was to leave his hired horse, all was dull, still and silent. He had passed through empty streets, and he came to an empty yard, where it was long before a lame hostler, with a sack over his shoulder, and a pair of wooden shoes on his feet, came out to take his hack. It was long, again, before he could procure any one to guide him to Priest Hill Cottage;—at last an urchin with a blue face, and his hands in his breeches pockets, was driven out, by a scolding[Pg 277] landlady, to show Cuthbert on his way. The north-east wind blew keenly, and drove the snow into his face and neck as he followed the awkward and floundering steps of the stupid and unwilling boy: the distance seemed long; and when they stopped before the wicket of the small cottage, it had a most poor and desolate appearance.

Cuthbert paid and dismissed his guide; and now he was alone on the threshold of that father, whose bosom he had pierced through with many sorrows; he was soon to meet the mother on whose breasts himself and Martin had both hanged in the innocent days of infancy. He had one secret in his bosom, which it would be his duty to keep from those parents—that they might not be grieved above measure in their declining years. He was only come for their pardon and their blessing before he died; but he could not open the wicket and go in. In silent agony he raised his eyes to the God of heaven, to implore strength for that solemn meeting. Then came the tempter, and showed him Martin in boyhood, with sunny[Pg 278] curls, and an arm about his neck, running with him down the green slope of the garden to the arbour where their father and mother sat—and then a change came—and he saw the pale corpse, and the bright hair dabbled with blood—and frowning faces looked out on him from the black and laden sky. He felt chill as death and very giddy, and then came a merciful swoon.

What hands were these chafing him as he awoke to consciousness, lying on warm blankets before a fire?—his mother’s. What man was this upon his knees, with earnest and moist eyes, that was giving him a cordial with a gentle care?—it was his father: the wanderer was at home again. Words may not tell his happiness; earth has no language to express it: there, near the throne of mercy, to which his grateful heart throbbed up its thanksgiving, there it was intelligible; there good angels heard it, and struck their golden harps to hymns of joy.

There was not in broad England a fireside more sweetly blessed with the spirit of peace and love than that by which old Noble and his wife and their child Cuthbert sat now for[Pg 279] many weeks in quiet company. Not a single look of upbraiding even from old Peter shaded one hour of Cuthbert’s life, from the moment when he was brought in from the wicket in the arms of his father and of that faithful old servant. Though quaint, and rough in manner, the man was true and tender at heart. It was enough for him that Master Cuthbert was come home again; and when he saw his hollow cheeks, and listened to his churchyard cough, all the same feelings which he had once had for him during a dangerous sickness of his childhood returned, and he was as gentle and kind in all he had to do for him as a nurse; but this was little,—for a mother was ever at his side: by her hands his pillow was smoothed, by her his back was propped, and his chair placed nearer to the fire; while his father sought to share in all these services, and read to him, and prayed with him, and communed with him through long and precious hours about their common faith, their common hope, and that future and abiding world, where they should dwell as pardoned and perfected spirits, in sinless[Pg 280] felicity, and in the pure service of praise and love for ever.

They all sat together one afternoon, about the close of May, when it was so warm that even the invalid had his chair moved out of doors for half an hour, and sat well wrapped up, to look at the flowers and the bee-hive. Cuthbert was silent, but a tear stole down his cheek; and turning suddenly to his father, he asked, “Did you see any thing?”

“Nothing,” replied Noble, calmly.

“It was a vision then; the mere creature of my own brain: but it was very beautiful. I thought I saw our dear departed Martin.”

“That is not surprising, Cuthbert, we have talked together so much about him lately, and you think of him, I know, a great deal; I myself often in my fancy see the dear boy, and probably shall continue to do so as long as I live.”

“Yes, that is the natural way to account for it; but yet I have never before pictured him to my mind as I saw him just now. He stood in shining raiment, by the bank of a river that seemed to flow between us, and beckoned me[Pg 281] to come over; and behind him I saw a field of light, and far off, a city that was bright as alabaster.

“Father, I have one last request to make—I do not think that I shall be much longer with you—read me the fourteenth chapter of St. John now: there my hope as a Christian was first clearly revealed to me; there I first cast anchor. O that I had never put out into the stormy sea of controversy! But it is all well—it is all over now. By the Divine alchemy good hath been drawn out of evil.

“‘O Father of eternal life, and all
Created glories under thee!
Resume thy spirit from this world of thrall
Into true liberty.’”

“You are not, dear Cuthbert, impatient, I hope? We must all wait God’s time.”

“I hope not; but it is better to depart.”

He now listened with the most devout and prayerful attention as his father read to him; but before the chapter was finished, his head suddenly sunk upon his bosom, and his spirit departed.

[Pg 282]


The extreme peril of the case,
The peace of England, and our person’s safety,
Enforced us to this execution.
King Richard III.

Among the petitioners who stood waiting for an audience of the Lord Protector in the guard hall at Hampton Court, at that anxious period which followed the many arrests and trials of persons implicated in the conspiracy against his government, in the spring of 1655, was a lady in deep mourning, who stood alone in the window niche of that crowded apartment, and gazed upon the sunny garden before her with an air of settled melancholy.

It was a May morning, the fourth day of that month. Notwithstanding that the air of every thing about the palace was solemn and grave, yet the appearance of his Highness’s life guards was very stately and imposing. The[Pg 283] hum of their voices, and of those of the various officials who passed to and fro to the door of the presence-chamber, though not loud, was yet audible and confident; while the little conversation on which the various groups of petitioners ventured was carried on in suppressed tones, or low and anxious whispers.

For three hours the lady remained in the same place, and kept her face averted from the busy hall, and fixed upon the trees without. At last there was a sudden stir and bustle, and when she turned round, she saw the crowd going forth at the outer door; and an usher of the court gave notice in a loud voice, that his Highness the Lord Protector would not hear any further suits that day.

She moved instantly towards the door of the presence-chamber.

“By your leave, gentlemen,—let me pass: my humble suit will not detain his Highness a moment; and to-morrow will not——”

“I understand you, lady,” said a grey-haired officer, with a manly compassion; “but his Highness has passed into his inner presence-chamber,[Pg 284] and is engaged with the great officers of state. He will not allow any one to approach him now; and he does not use to see any private petitioners after. No one dare present himself at the door of that chamber now; and we may not suffer you to pass.”

“Well, sir; but I will wait till the council is over, and then, perhaps, he will admit me. To-morrow will be too late,” she added, and turned away her head.

“Certainly, lady, you may remain awhile, till the council comes forth; and he never consults long with them; but if your suit touches any of the poor gentlemen about to suffer for the late treason, I fear there is no hope of your success. He hath refused many well-supported memorials for some who were but slightly connected with the offence, and whose friends have great personal influence with himself. Indeed, he cannot pardon them, with safety to his government.”

“It is not for a pardon that I come, sir, it is only for leave to part with a dear relative, who is sentenced to die as to-morrow; and I am[Pg 285] denied admission to him, without I bring an authority from the Lord Protector himself.”

“In as far as I may serve you, lady, in this matter, I will surely do it.” So saying, he crossed to a gentleman who sat at a table in the outer presence-chamber, the door of which was standing open, and conferred with him, giving the paper, with the prayer of her petition, into his hands. He returned, saying, that the secretary would present it as soon as the council broke up, and then placed a chair for her in the window near. In less than half an hour, the great officers of the council came out, and crossed the hall—the guards standing to their halberds. The lady rose, as they passed, out of respect to their offices; and they, with grave bows, acknowledged that courtesy—not aware, perhaps, that she was only a trembling suitor for their master’s “Yes.” But this was not given, as a matter of course, when the secretary asked it. The Protector questioned him closely concerning the aspect and manner of the lady, and ended by commanding her into his presence.

[Pg 286]

She was ushered into the inner presence-chamber, the door closed behind her, and she found herself alone before Cromwell. He stood on the far side of a table, with one hand resting upon it, and her memorial in the other. The table was covered with papers, and directly near him was an ancient desk of ebony, with an hour-glass by the side of it, and three or four books, one of which was a Bible. He was dressed in a suit of black, and his costume would have been plainer than any about the court but for the extreme richness of his Flemish lace collar and cuffs; but these were cut after a plain square fashion, and not in the Vandyke pattern of Charles’s reign. He avoided noticing her obeisance, for she did not kneel; and, after a considerable pause, he raised his eyes slowly, and fixed them upon her with a penetrating and a severe expression. It was a trying moment for Katharine Heywood,—for she was that lady; but she had been silently lifting up her heart to God, and she returned his look with dignity and composure. She could not but be impressed with awe in the presence of[Pg 287] one so powerful; and there was nothing in his cloudy and grave deportment calculated to relieve that feeling. At last he addressed her:—“Thou comest to us on the matter of this poor and deluded man, who hath fallen into the snares of Satan, and hath attempted to fight against the Lord. It is vain to petition us in this matter: we are to this unhappy and distracted kingdom in the place of the angel of the Lord; and we must not bear the sword in vain. As we are man, in so far we are weak, poor, foolish, frail, blind, unstable, like unto the light vane that turneth with every breath of wind; but, in that we are the angel of this people, chosen of the Lord, set up in the place of judgment, our wisdom and strength, our counsels and actions, are from above, and we are strong, rich, wise, indestructible, discerning all things; steady, fixed, constant in our purposes; immovable as a great rock, that smileth at the madness of those waves that dash around it.—Do not interrupt me, woman. I know what thou wouldest say: I can tell thy thoughts afar off, and see tears before they come to the eyelids.[Pg 288] I must not pity. He that hath covered my head in battle appointeth the doom of this troubler of Israel. His is the sceptre, and the sword is his. I am but the poor unworthy instrument by whom they are borne. I am no more but a poor Jack of the clock-house, and strike the stroke of righteous vengeance, even as that automatous toy striketh on the bell, being moved by the organs and machinery of the skilful constructor or contriver thereof. Thou understandest me? I like to speak plain, that my poor people may see what a very worm of earth is every child of Adam; and how little store I set by all the baubles and gewgaws of power and state. It is known how a whole nation did weary my spirit with petitions to take upon me this grave and weighty office, which I would gladly have foregone, if that I might have declined the cross without sin. But such peace was not for me.” During this strange address, Cromwell looked alternately at the paper in his hand and at Katharine Heywood; dropping his eyes on the former, and then suddenly raising them again, as if to catch some[Pg 289] expression of her countenance, which she would not willingly wear while his eyes rested on her: but there was about her a majesty sad and unmoved; the seriousness of her displeasure was grave; and she was fortifying herself by mental prayer. The Protector perceiving this, abruptly and without a pause, changed his manner and tone:—“You are the wife of the condemned?”

“Not so, my Lord, I am his cousin.”

“What is your name?”

“Katharine Heywood, Sir: it is written on the petition.”

“What Heywoods?”

“Those of Warwickshire.”

“Ha! Malignants—Malignants:—Sir Oliver was one of them: a staunch slave of that foolish and misguided man, Charles Stuart.”

“My father, sir, was a faithful subject of King Charles.”

“And you, woman——”

“I obey the laws. By my sex and by my sorrows I have been taught thankfulness for any government that brings peace.”

[Pg 290]

“Out of thine own mouth is thy rebel cousin condemned. How came it that all his relations were not instantly arrested? But thus it is. Thus am I served by indolent and purblind knaves—the serpent and the woman;—thus it ever was, and will be, the boldest treasons are ever hatched by women. Where dost thou live?”

“At Cottesmore, in Gloucestershire.”

“How long have you dwelt there, and with whom?”

“Since the death of my father, I have lived in the family of an ejected minister, named Juxon, a nephew of the bishop.”

Cromwell bit his nether lip, and passed his hand quickly across his brow.

“I did not think that bluff old man was a plotter. They told me that he was turned hunter again; but it is me that they would hunt. My soul is as a partridge on the mountains: they hunt for the precious life;—but,” he added (recovering the tone which a gloomy and passing emotion had discomposed), “it is the Lord: it is he that hath called me.[Pg 291] I am his servant, and no weapon formed against me can prosper. Who are these that would disturb a peace which the Lord giveth, and kindle again the fires of a civil war which I have been commanded to extinguish? and so thou livest near this merry old hunter that would have my life?”

“My Lord, it is not so: the bishop meddleth not with any public affairs, and I have never seen him smile since the sad end of his royal master. No, sir, he doth only hunt for health and diversion of his mind, which is ever occupied at home in dull cares and grave studies.”

“That soundeth true of him. I do remember that he was accounted honest; and that, from his youth, he had a body comely and quick—apt for that manly sport;—but still, ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who may know it?’—How long is it since thy cousin was at Cottesmore?”

“He was never there.”

“Is this true?”

“I would be sorry to utter any thing which[Pg 292] might, by possibility, be proved mistaken; but, to my knowledge, he was never there.”

“And how long, then, is it since you have seen him?”

“It is many years since I have seen him; nor for these two years have I even heard of him.”

“He was an officer of the Parliament?”

“He was, sir; and was made a colonel of horse, in the second year of those wars.”

“I remember it. Ere this, he might have written general, and baronet to boot; but he was hot, and wrong-headed.”

“’Tis better as it is: his heart is right,—and he hath less to answer for.”

The eyes of Cromwell rested upon the countenance of the majestic Katharine with severity, and with a surprize that seemed to ask the meaning of words so strange and cold. But the tone in which they were uttered, and the sudden mournfulness and abstraction of her gaze, told him that emotions, both strong and tender, were working in her bosom.

“And your prayer, lady, is that you may be[Pg 293] permitted to take leave of your cousin before his execution?”

“That is my prayer.”

“It is not wise. I speak as to a Christian mind. Though none hath shown himself more bitterly my foe than this cousin of thine, yet he was no assassin. He was, I know, for a warlike rising: his obscure lodging was found full of arms; and though he lived as frugally as he that laboureth for a groat a-day, yet was a horse worth fifty pieces, and trained for the great saddle, found in the shed, behind the small house where he lived. I have shown him all the favour in my power:—the sentence and manner of his death are changed. His life is a forfeit to the weal of England. I am no man of blood, lady:—the signing of death-warrants is no joy to me; but one example on a scaffold may save the lives of thousands. Lady, your visit will only disturb his last moments. I have cared for his soul:—a godly minister doth see him; and I learn that he doth exercise himself as a dying man should. It seems that you have not seen him for many[Pg 294] years:—he will not expect thee—does not think of thee:—cousinship is not so close a kindred. I cannot grant thy prayer.”

“My Lord, I am his nearest relative—his only relative now living in the land. We were together in our youth. I would not fail him in this hour. At such a time, to feel that he is not forsaken of all men must be a comfort to the spirit. Besides, he may have parting words for his distant father, and parting words are precious. Oh, grant my suit, your Highness! on my knees I humbly ask it—I implore it. Oh, grant my suit! I will not let you go till my poor prayer is answered.”

Katharine had approached, and fallen upon her knees, and in her hands she had clasped the skirt of his dark cloak.

“Lady, control yourself: I have a human heart—but duties are too sacred to be foregone for tears. I cannot grant your prayer.”

“Why not, my Lord? Oh, why this strict and stern refusal? Oh, deign to tell me what makes you thus cruelly dismiss me?”

“It were to commit evil against thy cousin’s[Pg 295] soul, and to defeat the ends of public justice; I can tell by thy lofty eyes thou wilt carry him the means of death.”

Katharine rose from her low posture with a look of reproof to the suspicious usurper at once dignified and solemn.

“Francis Heywood, my Lord, is of a nobler spirit than to tarnish his brave life by an end so mean, and hath too holy a trust in his Redeemer’s mercy to shrink from his appointed trial. But were he other, and I found him so, and with a poison cup at his lips, this friendly hand should dash it from them.”

“You speak of what you know not: the most valiant heart that ever beat might yet shrink from the shame and dishonours of the scaffold.”

“Shame and dishonours! Where are they? ’Tis not the place or manner of a death can make them; besides, the scaffold hath now become a dying place of kings, and meaner men may hold themselves ennobled by suffering like end. I promise by all my love towards my gallant cousin, by all my truth, and all my hopes of heaven, to hold no word of conference[Pg 296] with him on any matters save our private love as cousins, and our common faith as Christians.”

Just at this moment a door leading to the wing which Cromwell inhabited slowly opened, and a lady, with a gracious but most pensive face entered a little way and gently called him. He turned: the gloominess which had gathered over his brow at Katharine’s last speech was dissipated at the sound of her soft voice: he went to her, but before Katharine could address an appeal to her she had left the chamber; and Cromwell, returning to the table, took a pen, and wrote on the back of her petition an order for her admission to the Tower, and to the prison of Francis Heywood; then, with a grave and not an unkind look, he put it into her hand.

She glanced at the writing:—“Add another word, my good Lord,—the body:—Oh, grant me that! When the bloody axe hath done its work, let the body be my care:—we grew together in our youth,—I would not have his precious remains buried by executioners.” Cromwell took back the paper, and, without uttering a word, wrote the permission.

[Pg 297]


Nor death, nor sleep, nor any dismall shade
Of low, contracting life, she then doth fear;
No troubled thoughts her settled mind invade:
The immortal root of life she seeth clear,
Wisheth she ever were engrafted here.
Henry More.

It had been arranged between Katharine and her ever-constant friends, the Juxons, who had accompanied her from London on this melancholy occasion, that she should go to the palace alone, while they awaited her return on the bank of the river. They had come from Westminster by water in the morning; and, in the event of her petition being attended with success, were to go back in the same manner direct to the Tower.

They had been provided with a swift four-oared boat, well manned, hired for the day; and while Katharine was in the palace, Jane and her husband sat under the trees not fifty[Pg 298] yards from the river, and in sight of the boat. The men had been cautioned against drinking or straying, and having shown all civility and attention, rested idly on the bank, to all seeming in contented obedience. But whether their patience had been exhausted, or the mournfulness of the party was displeasing to them, or they felt bribed by the chances of feasting and merriment with some party of pleasure, just before Katharine came down to the river, they suddenly took boat and rowed swiftly away, unheeding the loud and vain remonstrance of Juxon.

By this petty perplexity she was for some time delayed. It was long before any conveyance could be found. Every horse—every carriage—every boat was out. It was one of those delicious days, when all the world, as by common consent, keeps holyday:—when sorrows, disappointments, wrongs, and sordid cares are left within doors; when grass is in its greenest beauty; when hedges are white and sweet-scented; when lovely blossoms cover all the orchards; and flowers are every where, and[Pg 299] foliage is fresh and young, and birds are in full song.

Absorbed, patient, unconscious, Katharine sat still, her hand within that of Jane. Juxon at last returned, rowing a small wherry himself, and placing them in it, made for the Tower with his best vigour. He said little; but as he passed the numberless boats, which were crowded with glad and joyous groups, here noisy with laughter, there vocal with sweet and innocent songs, the natural expression of youthful enjoyment, his heart bled for Katharine. But, in truth, all these sights and sounds gave her little disturbance—they were unheeded. Her spirit was preparing for a great trial, and was lying low before a hidden throne, imploring strength.

As soon as they reached the neighbouring wharf, Juxon accompanied her to the gate of the Tower, promised to provide a lodging for the night in that neighbourhood, where they might all remain, and to return for her.

And now this sad and gracious woman was left to pass through all the slow and cold formalities[Pg 300] of admission alone. By no less than five different officers was her paper examined; and with some there was unkind delay, and with others, the rude questioning of an unfeeling curiosity. At last came the prison itself. Here the order from the lieutenant of the Tower having been duly recognised was obeyed in surly silence, by a stern-faced gaoler and his assistants. Heavy doors were slowly unlocked; and harsh and grating sounds, and the clank of keys, and the turning of strong bolts, made her blood chill.

A lighter door, as of an apartment, was at length unlocked quietly, and she was ushered into a chamber, where her cousin sat at a table writing, with his back to the entrance. He did not, at first, turn round, fancying it was one of the gaolers. One grated window in his front, having a northern aspect, looked out upon a wall so close to it, that not even sunshine could be ever visible upon it. There were a few books upon his table:—here, too, there was an hour-glass. A little very ancient furniture, of oak, relieved the nakedness of the[Pg 301] walls; and there was an aspect in the gloomy room which did properly belong to the prison of a state criminal of rank.

The conductor of Katharine respectfully announced a visiter, and as immediately withdrew, and turned the lock. Francis rose:—he recognised Katharine at once, and with a mute embrace; then placed her with reverent tenderness in a seat, and went for a moment to the window, to recover his composure, after which he came and sat down beside her. Katharine was collected, and did not shed a single tear; but the first words she would have uttered died within her, and found no voice. Francis took her hand in a grave, calm manner:—

“Remember,” said he, “my dear, beloved Katharine, that this must be no melancholy parting. If any thing on earth could make me loth to quit it, most true it is, the thought that it must yet, for a brief season, be your dwelling-place, would make me cast a lingering look behind. But even that I have struggled with and conquered; nor does your presence shake my resolution. You must rejoice with me—[Pg 302]not weep. It is a bad world, sweet cousin, and I have been among the worst upon it. But I have found the Great Deliverer; or, rather, have been found of him; and I do look beyond it now:—ay, Katharine, and have done so for many years. My spirit panteth to be gone; and well I know that thou art only kept on earth, as angels are, to minister God’s mercy to the wretched. I knew that I should have thy charitable prayers, but did not think to see thee. How didst thou gain admission? It has been denied to some of my true friends. Besides, I thought thee far away, and wrote especially to the tyrant’s private secretary to say that we had had no intercourse for years; and that you knew nothing of my actions, nor were you even acquainted with any of the Royalists engaged. I marvel much this favour hath been granted me, and humbly thank my God for this last blessing.”

The while he spoke she looked upon him steadily, and at every word did gather strength and peace.

“How is it, Francis, that I feel no grief?[Pg 303] How is it that I have stood face to face today with Cromwell without a falter of the tongue? How is it that I feel this nearness of thy death as if it were the appointment of some hallowed honour to wipe out all the noble errors of thy deceived heart, and write upon thy tomb their glorious confession? I did ever love you well, Francis—now better than ever. We are no longer young: I can read in your worn lineaments, as in a mirror, the lines of care, which Heaven has traced upon mine own. Your hair is grey, and war and woe have done their work upon you, and quenched the brightness of your eye of fire. Now you are dear to me;—now that you stand upon the verge of the invisible world, prepared, with prostrate heart, and with courageous faith, to enter in. I do not come to weep with thee:—your spirit kindles mine—I will rejoice.”

“There spoke the woman of my love—of my heart’s choice. Katharine, I do own to thee, that when I did engage with this last band to strike a blow for freedom, and when[Pg 304] discovery came, and chains and judgment followed, the thought that you would know my last true effort, would call it constant, honest, and drop a tear upon my grave, was a strong cordial to my wearied spirit, and did enable me to look at Cromwell in all his state and power with a bright defiance. I do marvel that he granted me this favour:—what said he?”

“He did not do it readily. He spoke you fair and justly as a soldier; but only in one point he did you grievous wrong.”

“In what? I pray you name it.”

“He seemed to fear that I might bring you poison or a dagger—and so the scaffold lose a victim, and baser men an example for their terror.”

“And what said you in answer?”

“I told him that you had a nobler scorn of death, and a holier fear of God, than so to sin against your soul.

“He said that bravest men might dread the dishonours of the scaffold.

“I told him these now were no dishonours[Pg 305]—that it was a place ennobled by the blood of a royal martyr.”

“Dared you so much? How looked he?”

“He loured and bent his eyes upon the ground. Just then his lady daughter entered. She whispered him, and, as I think, did plead for me—for, after she went forth, he wrote the permission instantly and more. The after-sentence is remitted:—then, when the axe hath done its cruel work, thou art mine, Francis—these hands shall fold thy grave-clothes.”

“Angels of heaven! are ye listening, are ye present? Yes, her steps are compassed round with holy guardians; her strength is more than mortal. Am I then helped in this my only trouble? this the last weakness of my shrinking nature? Have my prayers been heard, and have I been cared for as a timid child, by him who sitteth on the mercy seat? The tyrant told you truly, Katharine; for he, half hypocrite, half hero, is brave as his own sword:—yes—brave men may shrink from the rude shames done on their lifeless bodies. Remember, noble woman, that this last great[Pg 306] charity doth take away the only bitterness that made my cup to taste of terror. Now my heart is light, and leaps within me, as if I felt its pinions struggling to be free. To-morrow is as a bridal-day to me.”

During this speech Katharine was so much overcome that big tears rolled down her marble cheeks, and she sought relief in prayer. Her eyes were raised to heaven in silence, and for a few brief minutes not a word was spoken by either; for Francis kneeled beside her, and his heart was lifted up in devout and still communion with hers. Being calmed and strengthened by this exercise of faith, Katharine was again able to address him.

“Your hours are now precious, Francis; let me not dare to waste one golden moment of them: whatever may be your last desires and wishes, tell me, that they may be religiously observed.”

“They are not many: these papers, which one broken hour of the night will give me time enough to seal, I would have conveyed by a safe hand to New England; and perhaps one[Pg 307] line from you might comfort my father’s heart. These few books I would also have sent to him. This, Katharine, is my Psalter: take it; and till we meet in a better world use no other. Now hear me; and, for both our sakes, observe my last directions strictly. To-morrow morning, from the hour of eight to nine, keep closely to thy chamber, and shut thy door, and do not look abroad; but make this Psalter thy companion, and read therein the choicest words of praise and thanksgiving. Yes, praise and thanksgiving:—remember this. If that I am a pardoned sinner, and that I am pardoned a humble voice within me whispers, and visionary hands do point to him the blessed of the Father, who hung on the accursed tree, and died that we might live. If it be so, then to-morrow I shall cross Jordan at the narrowest point, and see that heavenly Canaan where happy spirits dwell: there we shall meet again. Hark! there be footsteps. One last embrace:—farewell.”

The door was unlocked, and a minister of a countenance most kind and holy did softly enter. He paused, irresolute at the sight of[Pg 308] Katharine, and would have withdrawn till their interview might end.

“Nay, my reverend and dear friend, come in, I prithee:—this is the lady of whom I spoke to you: my only relative in England. She hath come to do me the last charitable offices of earthly love. You are prepared, I see, to comfort and refresh me. My cousin will keep this feast with us.”

At these words the good man entered, bearing a salver and a cup, over which a white napkin was decently spread; and when the door had again been closed, and the clank of the keys at the gaoler’s girdle had died away in the long passages, and the world and the world’s sounds were all shut out, that dull and grated prison became a temple,—and they three in a mournful humility did make their meek confession, and in faith, hope, and charity, did feast upon a Saviour’s love.

[Pg 309]


Dear beauteous death, the jewel of the just,
Shining nowhere but in the dark:
What mysteries do lie beyond thy dust,
Could man outlook that mark!

The good old vicar of Cheddar, and the aged partner of his trials and his consolations, survived the melancholy war which brought so much public misery on the nation, and so much private affliction on themselves, for many years. They continued to dwell in the same small cottage, in which, after the ejectment of Noble, they found their first refuge, unknowing and unknown. Their means were slender, but their wants were few; and they were rich in the graces of divine contentment.

As with advancing years the strength necessary for manual labour declined, there came such little improvement of circumstances as[Pg 310] enabled the worthy man to dispense with such exertion; and the toil of Peter was lightened by the assistance of a younger labourer. Noble himself walked regularly every Sunday of his life to attend divine service at a small village church distant from his cottage about a mile and a half; and old Peter and he sat together in the back seats under the gallery. His wife being feeble on her limbs, and dim of sight, remained at home; and it was Noble’s pleasure to bring back to her the text of the sermon and the matter of the discourse.

This church was served by a Puritan divine, who held a benefice five miles on the other side of it, and rode over to the hamlet for one full service in the afternoon. The lord of the manor was a nobleman who had been distinguished during the war; and who, after the close of hostilities in Ireland and the establishment of the protectorate, had retired to this mansion and estate, where he led a very secluded life, seldom stirring beyond his park wall. But he was a pious and charitable man, well spoken of by his servants, and by the poor[Pg 311] of the village as a Christian master and a considerate landlord.

There was something very fine and very affecting in the consideration, that an aged minister, ejected for conscience-sake, should sit every Sabbath as a humble and loving Christian listener, under the ministry of one young enough to be his son, and to find in him a helper of his joy.

The young man knew not whom it was his privilege thus to strengthen and comfort; for there was a meekness and a shy reserve about Noble, and an enjoined silence to Peter, which repressed and baffled curiosity. They just knew so much as that one was a deprived clergyman; but whether he had been turned out for scandal, or what his story might be, none cared to discover more particularly;—he was an accustomed sight.

It so chanced that, one Sunday, when the congregation was assembled at the usual hour the young minister was not forthcoming. All persons had taken their seats. The lord of the manor was in his pew; and, after a long pause,[Pg 312] the singing was begun, in the expectation that perhaps he would yet arrive time enough to conduct the worship; but the psalm was concluded, and he did not appear.

There was an evident disappointment on the countenances of all the people; and the grave nobleman, after leaning over his pew, and summoning the clerk, decided to sit down again, and linger yet a little time. Another psalm was given out and sung through,—still no minister arrived.

At last, moved by a constraining principle of love to the great and Divine shepherd of all Christian flocks, and by a pure love to the souls of the people, Noble came forward with lowliness and composure, and told the clerk quietly that, being himself an ordained minister, he did not feel it right to let the people go empty away, without offering in such manner as he could to feed them; and that if there was no objection he was ready to go up into the pulpit. To this arrangement there was an immediate assent from the nobleman, to whom the clerk referred it; and old Noble, for the first time[Pg 313] since the day when he was driven from Cheddar with blows and insults, found himself in the place and office of an ambassador for Christ.

He was manifestly supported in this moment by the spirit of power, love, and of a sound mind. His prayer was serious, simple, and plain as the utterance of a child. Out of the abundance of his heart he offered up his petitions with reverent fervency and confiding love. The chapter which he selected for reading was the fourth chapter of the first Epistle of John; and, taking the tenth verse of this chapter for his text, he declared fully and freely that blessed message of pardon, reconciliation, and peace, which it is the most precious privilege of the Christian minister to deliver, and to deliver which is a duty of sacred and perpetual obligation. Mercy and grace fell softly from his lips, and distilled like the gentle dew upon the hearts of all his hearers.

The poorest and least instructed could understand every thing he said; the most learned and advanced among them found a master in Israel, walking with a secure footing on the[Pg 314] very summits of the mount of God. Unseen by Noble, the young minister entered, when he was in the middle of his discourse, and stood with rapt, devout, and breathless attention to its close. The rugged old warlike nobleman had early risen, and leaned over his pew with eyes fixed upon the preacher, and half the congregation were in the like posture of attention. Of all this Noble was utterly unconscious: his own gaze was perfectly abstracted; he saw nothing, he thought of nothing but the Divine love. He magnified it; he set it forth in the chaste radiance and the heavenly light of Scripture language and Scripture imagery. He commended it to the hearts of all around him, by speaking of it experimentally, gratefully. He showed what the world and society would be if subjected to its influence: drew the mournful contrast daily presented to the eye; and, towards the close, he drew aside, as it were, the curtains of the skies, and displayed the world of light, and the redeemed of the Lord walking, as angels, in an air of glory. When he had concluded, he kneeled down to pray: his[Pg 315] few first words, though not quite so loud as his sermon, which had been preached in very subdued and quiet tones, were distinctly audible; but, then, they became faint and unintelligible, his grey head bowed down upon his pale hands, and both rested without motion upon the dark cushion of the pulpit.

The young minister was the first to perceive his condition, and the first to run to his succour. With the aid of Peter, he brought him down and out into the summer air, and laid him on the grass, and loosened his vest; but the body itself was no longer any thing but a put-off garment:—the spirit was far off, breathing already the air of that Eden which is above.

The young minister accompanied Peter back to the cottage with the precious remains, and, leaving them at a few yards’ distance, entered first, and broke the loss to his aged partner. She felt it deeply: but as all the circumstances attending it were truly and tenderly related, the grief of the woman yielded to the faith of the Christian; and, while tears rolled down her[Pg 316] withered cheeks, she was enabled to bless and praise her God.

From that day, to the hour of her death, that youthful minister took her to his own home, and was to her as a son.

The very same day which witnessed the sudden and solemn removal of the good old vicar of Cheddar brought a summons to his base and hypocritical successor in that vicarage. As the crafty and bitter bigot was crossing his yard with a more hasty step than usual, his foot tripped against the edge of the BROKEN FONT, which he had put in the ground near his ash-heap, to hold water for his fowls. He fell to the ground with such violence as to produce a compound fracture of his thigh; and, after the lingering torments of a very long confinement, died in the greatest agony of body, and in hopeless terror of mind.

While this unhappy wretch lay upon his bed, in the first week after his accident, the body of Noble was brought to Cheddar for interment by the young Puritan divine, of whom we have[Pg 317] spoken in the foregoing part of the chapter. The whole village poured forth to meet the body: the large hearted young minister performed the funeral service; and, indifferent to what the rigid party might say or think, he read over the grave of the departed vicar that solemn and sweet office for the burial of the dead which was, in those days, a forbidden charity to men who had suffered cheerfully the loss of all things rather than give up the sacred ritual of their church, or take the covenant which the faction in authority would have tyrannically imposed upon their conscience. The dropping of a leaf might have been heard in the green churchyard as that service was read; and a crowd stood listening with bare heads and serious eyes. When the last rite was done, and the earth was filled into the grave, fresh and verdant sods, which had been most carefully cut in a neighbouring paddock, were placed over it orderly and firm, and these again were so thickly strewn over with the choicest summer flowers as to be almost concealed by[Pg 318] the profusion, while a fragrant and grateful incense, more pleasant than “precious ointment poured out,” filled all the place with a sweet promise, that the name of the righteous should live.


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