IT may be well to observe, that the arguments and railings against the Church, which are put into the mouths of the Puritans in the following pages, are, without an exception, taken from contemporary pamphlets put forth by that party. I refer more particularly to the works of Lewis Hews, from which many of the speeches in Chapter VI. are extracted almost verbatim. To those who are but partially acquainted with the writings of that faction, it might appear incredible that such arguments could ever have been brought forward, or have produced, as they undeniably did, so much effect; and they might, without this notice, accuse me of wilfully drawing a caricature, instead of a likeness.
I may also mention that it is doubtful whether White, the infamous author of the Century, lived to the time of which the following tale treats; and the probability appears to be on the opposite side. The reader will therefore pardon the anachronism, if it be one.
The Feast of All Saints, 1842
All is in busy, stirring, stormy motion;
And many a cloud sweeps by, and none sojourns.
Lightly is life laid down among us now,
And lightly is death mourned--the worse for us!
He that lacks time to mourn, lacks time to mend.
PHILIP VAN ARTIVELDE.
THE little village of Scaldwell, in Northamptonshire, the scene of the following story, lies about midway between the towns of Northampton and Kettering; and presents, even now, when commerce and manufactures have opened one of their greatest lines of communication in its neighbourhood, the beau idéal of an English hamlet. It is, indeed, but little altered, in outward appearance at least, from the time at which our tale commences,--the summer of the eventful year, 1645. The cottages may have been successively rebuilt, as one by one they yielded to the silent influence of the weather, or were enlarged and modernised to suit the tastes of successive lords and tenants: the parsonage, with its fair oriel, projecting porch, and high gables, has given way to an humbler, if more commodious, structure: yet these occupy the same places; and the village church, girded in with a lovely circle of elms, stands unaltered amidst surrounding changes: no bad type of that spiritual Church, immutable amidst a world of mutability, which summons her children of to-day to the same prayers, comforts them with the same promises, and instructs them in the same lessons, as she set before their fathers and forefathers, long since departed in her communion, and now at rest.
It was at the time when, more than at any other, earth seems to put on something of the calmness and holiness of Heaven,--a bright evening in the beginning of June, that Mr. Tresham, the rector of the parish wt have just named, was returning with his daughter from a parochial visit to one of the more distant cottages. At a season, when with that remarkable presentiment of future events, so constantly occurring, and so difficult to explain, men's minds were filled with the expectation that some great and decisive event was about to take place, that some crisis was about to terminate the fearful struggle then devastating England, it is no wonder that after a few remarks on the inmates of the cottage they had just left, the conversation of the father and daughter should turn on the state of political affairs, and the probable fate of the royal cause. Indeed, it was evident that a crisis was at hand: the unfortunate issue of the treaty of Uxbridge, in the preceding spring, had shown clearly that no terms of compromise could be expected; yet matters appeared so evenly poised, that human foresight could hardly guess on which side the scale would eventually incline. In the west, Taunton was hard pressed by the royal arms; the four associated counties, Cornwall, Devonshire, Dorsetshire, and Somersetshire, were actively bestirring themselves to raise supplies of men and money for the King; the presence of the Prince at Bridgewater served admirably to consolidate the interests of those who supported the good cause, and his little court was the rallying point for the western royalists. It was hoped, that before the end of the month Taunton would be invested with an army of ten thousand men; and as it was known to be but indifferently garrisoned, its speedy surrender was confidently expected. In the north, the successes of Montrose had been the subject of much exaggerated report. It was, moreover, well known that the self-denying ordinance, passed in the previous spring, had disgusted many active partisans of the parliament: that the displacement of the Earl of Manchester from the dignity of commander-in-chief, in order to make way for Sir Thomas Fairfax, was viewed with suspicion: the new-modelling of the army was made the theme of much animadversion; and the resignations of the Earl of Essex, Sir William Waller, and the Earl of Denbigh, were much lamented by many. Preparations, too, for the ensuing campaign, were more forward on the side of the royalists than on that of the rebels. To a casual observer, therefore, the balance might appear to preponderate for the former; but they who looked more deeply into things would have come to a different conclusion. That which, after all, constituted the chief strength of the royal cause, was the veneration for long-established usages, the love of the past, the instinctive abhorrence of change, the belief in
"Power, by a thousand" tough and stringy ties,
Twined to the people's pious nursery faith,"
which till then had been the Englishman's birthright and dearest portion: and these had been sorely wounded in the first campaign: the magic circle which fenced in the sacredness of majesty had been broken in upon; and now, that a second and third had passed, and a fourth was commencing, men began to feel that it was a triumph to rebellion not to have been overthrown, and that every month was reducing the moral strength of the contending parties to an equality. Rumours, too, spoke loudly of dissatisfactions and heartburnings in the court: dissensions between Prince Rupert and Lord Goring were more than hinted at; the licentiousness which pervaded Sir Richard Grenville's regiments was notorious; and the surprisal of Evesham by the parliamentary forces was looked on as a bad omen for the following summer, and not at all counterbalanced by the capture of Hawkesley HouseJ with a hundred and twenty prisoners. At a time, when, from the long peace it had so happily enjoyed,' so little was known in England of the art of war, that two hostile regiments had marched in parallel lines the whole day at a distance of only four miles, without either being aware of the other's proximity, it cannot be supposed that authentic information would soon reach so obscure a village as Scaldwell. Scarcely a day passed but some extravagant rumour was afloat: now, that Fairfax had surprised Oxford; now, that Cromwell and Sir William Waller had possessed themselves of the Prince's person; now, that Goring had been defeated and killed, and the siege of Taunton raised. All the reports were unfavourable to the royal cause: a tendency, afterwards believed by some providentially ordered as a foreshadowing of the future event. Lively, indeed, was the interest taken when a copy of the ' Mercurius Rusticus' found its way into the village; failing that, curiosity was forced to rest contented with the tales of such straggling soldiers as from time to time visited the spot; or with the tales of those hawkers, who to their ordinary stock in trade now added a large quantity of party lampoons, so arranged that, as their customers were Roundhead or Cavalier, the collection might be laid before him which would best suit his views. For the former, they had such pamphlets as--'Have ye any firebrands to your foxes? or a plain discovery of the popery and malignancy of his majesty's advisers;' 'Two looks over Lincoln;' 'The little great man: or the true portraiture of his grace in the Tower.' The latter were regaled with--'A dialogue between pope and puritan; wherein is set forth their amity and agreement; ' 'He that hath ears to hear, let him hear; or, a true delineation of a preacher in Friday Street.' [This title refers to the punishment of the notorious Henry Burton, lecturer for some time at St. Matthew's, Friday Street, and a great spreader of seditions and schismatical principles.] The village itself, with one or two exceptions, was loyal; several of the husbands and brothers of its inhabitants were serving for the king; and nothing had yet been felt in it of the immediate horrors of civil war. The best accredited accounts represented the king on his march to meet the Scotch army in Yorkshire; Fairfax, as hovering about Oxford; and Goring, as blockading, though but too negligently, Taunton.
"I almost marvel," said the rector, " that a time of such peace and holiness as this should not attune men's minds to love and unity. GOD made this beautiful world--for beautiful it is, after all,--for scenes far different from those it is now witnessing. Long as I have known this spot, it never seemed to me so lovely as now; perchance, because I never before felt how soon its loveliness might be intruded on and destroyed."
And a less partial eye than the rector's might have dwelt with delight on the scene. The sun was setting behind the high ground of Naseby on the right, and bringing its tower and windmill into strong relief against the pale gold of the western sky: immediately over the hill hung a long line of clouds, like thick dark foliage blossoming with gold; here and there a bright-winged purple cloudlet hung lazily in the air, as if loth to leave so much beauty; while the blue grey mist of a summer evening was stealing over the eastern landscape. Before, the tower with its glittering weathercock peeped above the trees; and the brown thatch and carved and twisted chimney stacks of the village cottages might here and there be caught sight of through the branches. The cattle were slowly wending to the farmyard; the hedger, putting off his darnocks, and gathering up his basket and implements; the team being led down to the village pond; and the silence only disturbed by those sweet sounds of rural peace that render it a luxury to linger near an English village on a summer's evening; the tinkling of the sheep-bell; the merry laugh from field or garden; the shutting of the cottage wicket; the cawing of some solitary crow winging its idle way homewards; and the occasional clanking of the blacksmith's forge.
"This is just the time," remarked Agatha, "that, before the troubles began, the bells would have been chiming for evening service. How much I miss it! it seems woven into all my happy recollections of childhood. I remember how my dear mother would bid us leave off our play in the hayfield when the bells began, and talk to us of the privilege of being admitted day by day to worship in the church; and would tell us how David seemed to envy the very sparrows and swallows that had formed their habitations in GOD'S House. Then, in winter, as we crossed the lawn, and looked up at the thousand bright stars twinkling over our heads, she would remind us, that if night after night praises GOD with such mute eloquence, much more should we magnify Him daily. And oh! in the bright summer mornings, how she would call us to remember the words of the psalm of praise in which we were so soon about to join; and tell us to look at those lovely heights of Naseby, and reflect that 'The strength of the hills is His also.' Oh! I do unspeakably miss the daily service!"
"Your mother, my Agatha, is taking part in a far nobler Daily Service; for it is written--His servants shall serve Him. She took delight here in approaching to GOD (and after the reverent fashion of the day, the rector raised his hat at the holy name) in His Temple: and what must be that House, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, where she now is!"
"It seems but a day," Agatha continued, "since we assembled so happy a party in that same house. And now, how are we scattered! my mother gone to her rest; Herbert in all the danger of an army, exposed to instant action; Rose and I alone left to take care of you; and Basil--"
"Do not talk of him," replied her father; "do not remind me that one of my children should have, by forgetting his allegiance to his earthly monarch, shown how little true allegiance he bore to his GOD, Herbert, at least, is doing his duty; and if all reports are true, is doing it right manfully. Still, if we had faith as a grain of mustard seed, we should believe that, after all, the strength of the royal cause lies more in the fervency of the prayers of its adherents, than in the strength of its armies, or the skill of its generals. It struck me much, the other day, that what Abijah said to Jeroboam, we may say to our assailants now: 'And now ye think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD in the hand of the sons of David; and ye be a great multitude. Have ye not cast out the Priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and have made you priests after the manner of the nations of other lands? But as for us, the LORD is our GOD, and we have not forsaken Him; and the Priests that minister unto the LORD are the sons of Aaron; and the Levites wait upon their business: for we keep the charge of the LORD our GOD; but ye have forsaken Him. O House of Israel, fight ye not against the LORD GOD of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper.' "
"That is a comforting point of view," replied his daughter. "Then you think that GOD will not suffer the enemies of His Church to prevail in this struggle?"
"Far be it from me, my child, thus to look forward into futurity. I do not, indeed, think that GOD will suffer His Church in this land finally to fall; not, indeed, that He has given us a promise of the indestructibility of any portion of it, for it is of the Church Catholic that He has said 'The gates of hell shall not prevail against it:' but still, 'Right dear in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints:' and I can hardly believe that a Church of more than twelve hundred years' standing, which can boast of more Saints and Martyrs than any other, which has sent out teachers and missionaries into all parts of the world, which has given such glorious proofs of zeal for GOD'S honour in her temples, and colleges, and religious foundations, should be permitted to fall without a struggle. She may, indeed, be called to pass through the fire of all afflictions; she may be counted worthy to suffer persecution for CHRIST'S sake; and even in this very year one of Her Prelates has been called to a place in the noble army of Martyrs. But she will come forth refined and purified; GOD is with her now, and right earnestly I trust that He will abide with her."
"With us," said Agatha, "He has dealt most mercifully. Some of the accounts I have heard and read of the treatment that other clergymen and their wives and families have experienced, have made my blood run cold. I have often felt, that had I been called to such trials as have some of their daughters, I must have sunk under the temptation."
"Say not that," answered the clergyman; "GOD could, and, I doubt not would, have given faith equal to the need. But we must not expect this state of things to continue. We are so completely placed between the two armies, that a visit from one or the other can hardly be escaped; and they say, since my Lord Goring's visit to Oxford, discipline has much relaxed in the royal army; so that in either case, our village would suffer."
"It is very sad," said Agatha, "that a good cause should use such unworthy means for its support."
"It is one of the necessary curses of a civil war," replied the rector. "When the troubles first began, the Royalists, and, to do them justice, in most instances, the Rebels, paid fairly and honestly for whatever they took; and the halt of the King's army at any village was a general holiday. Now, no one (dreams of purchasing, when it is so much easier to take."
By this time, the speakers had reached the stile which leads from the fields to the village, and were surprised to see, galloping down the street, a horseman, whose whole appearance, even in the distance, bespoke him a cavalier. Men, women, and children, came to the doors of their cottages, and looked after him as he passed. He seemed to have travelled far and fast, for his jack-boots were sorely stained, and his accoutrements tarnished and neglected; and his horse, though a fine animal, seemed much distressed. As he passed the stile, he stopped short in the tune he was whistling,--'The king shall enjoy his own again,'--checked his horse, and, having dismounted, came up to the rector, saying--"I have a packet for your reverence." "Ah, my good Will Denton, is it you?" said Mr. Tresham, recognizing at once his former parishioner's voice. "Whence have you come? How is my son? Where is the King? Tell me all."
"I came," said the other, "from our head-quarters, at Leicester. Colonel Tresham is well in health, and charged me with a letter for your reverence, and here it is."
"Thank GOD for that!" exclaimed Agatha, as her father proceeded hastily to cut the string that held the packet. "But at Leicester, say you? we thought the King far on his way to the North."
"We did march as far, an please you, as Chester; but then came news that the Roundheads were collecting about Oxford, and His Majesty thought fit to turn back, and to fall on Leicester, which we took Saturday night last."
"Leicester taken! Dear father, hear you the good news?"
"I have just been reading it here. Herbert gives the story at length: let us get back, and I will read it to you. And what are you going to do, Denton?--to stay with us any time, or to return to the army? "
"I must return, please your honour, as soon as may be; if my horse can manage it, a stage or two this evening."
"Well, take him into my stables; the merciful man, you know, is merciful to his beast. And go down to your mother; she must be longing to see you. We will have a packet ready for you against your return."
Denton, who was eager to be again among his own family, rode off; the others followed him to the parsonage; and the letter was read as follows:--
"The bearer hereof hath promised, if he possibly may, to put this into your own hands; he hath dispatches for Kettering, and hath leave to return by you. I did, in my last, tell you how we had taken Hawkesley House; and now, by GOD'S blessing, there is much greater success to speak of. My Lord Byron did counsel His Majesty to surcease awhile marching northwards, and to fall upon Leicester: the which advice did please Prince Rupert very well. So Sir Marmaduke Langdale did, on Friday last, summon the town; and on Saturday was the whole army, horse and foot, drawn about it. Yet Sir Robert Pye returned no other answer than that he held it for the Parliament, and would defend it to the death. The which so traitorous speech did much enmove the Prince's anger. Thereupon he built a great battery with marvellous speed, and after dinner it played on the town by the space of four hours; and at five of the clock were we advertised that the assault was incontinently to begin, both at the breach and elsewhere, but specially at the breach. It was my hap to be at the breach, which was indeed defended with notable resolution and courage, insomuch that we were repulsed from it twice; and the attack did continue all night. But early on the Sunday morning, Colonel Page, with certain horse, newly arrived from Newark, did by a back way enter into the town; and the governor and all the officers and soldiers threw down their arms, and surrendered themselves. A sad sight it was to see the pillage continue all that day, being Sunday; there were both churches and houses burned, and much excess of rioting. That which we might do to restrain the soldiers we did; but all thought not with me. I fear me, GOD will visit this upon us. Colonel Trelawney holdeth him heartily commended unto all, and specially to Agatha. Where next we shall march I know not as yet. God keep us all, and grant us a happy meeting. So prayeth your dutiful son,--HERBERT TRESHAM,
"Postscriptum. Poor Maurice, the son of Widow Maurice, was shot by my side on the breach. I saw him buried to-day in S. Mary's churchyard, with all due ceremonies by the Church in that case ordained."
"We have much to be thankful for," said Mr. Tresham, as he refolded the letter, "on this account, and yet it is not without its causes of melancholy. Thank GOD, however, that they are both safe. My Agatha, there may be happy years in store for you yet, though I shall probably not see them."
"Yes, my dear father," she replied, "I trust there are happy years in store for both of us; not, dearest Rose, forgetting you. But what a melancholy Sunday must the last have been for them!"
"Melancholy indeed," said Rose; "the Day of peace, and the Houses of peace, profaned,--and that by those who are righting for both. Oh! how could it have been allowed?"
"And think you, my child, that the unruly passions of men can be restrained as they can be excited, at will? Our gracious King--God long preserve him to us!--doubtless endeavoured to restrain the outrage; and Sir Marmaduke Langdale is, they say, as gentle as a dove, yet as bold as a lion. It is the lower class of officers, who, having risen from nothing by their animal courage and brutal strength, would sink into nothing again at the end of the war, who care not to what extremities they urge it."
At this moment the village bells struck up.
"Hark!" said Rose; "they know it in the village. But, dear father, will you not go and comfort poor Widow Maurice?"
"We will all go," replied her father; "it is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting. But, first, I will stop those bells, for they must sound painfully on that poor woman's ear."
The whole village was in a state of joyous excitement: groups of two or three were collected at the doors of several of the cottages, who were discussing the probable consequences of the sack of Leicester. Master Geoffrey, the village schoolmaster, seduced from the less inviting occupation of inspecting copybooks, or preparing cyphering lessons, by the interest of the occasion, was describing illustrative diagrams in the dust with his cane, and haranguing learnedly on the effects of the victory.
"And so, my masters, Leicester being here--that stone being Taunton,--and London lying here--the King--GOD bless him!--must effect an union with the brave Lord Goring. And so, when they have joined their forces, what is to hinder them from marching at once against the Rump? I say, my masters, what is to hinder them?"
"Taunton is a long way from Leicester," suggested one of the bystanders.
"A long way?" quoth Master Geoffrey. "Well; what an it be? I'll warrant you the King has marched a longer way before now. Why, the thing is as good as done. I say, all is up with the parliament: and I should like to see the man that would contradict me."
"Well," rejoined the other, "it's a good proverb, 'Fine evening makes fine day.'"
"Answer me this," said the schoolmaster; "When a man has lost his best hopes, is it not all up with him? And were not the rebels willing to give everything else up, so they might save that place? And does not that prove what they thought their best chance? Well,--it is gone; and what, think you, will come next? "
"Excellently well argued, Master Geoffrey," said the rector, who had come up unperceived behind; "but surely a little less heat in your argument, my good friend, would not weaken its force. And what think you, Master Fletcher, of this business?" he continued, after sending to stop the bells, and nodding to, or interchanging a kind word with, such of his parishioners as were standing round.
Fletcher had served with Prince Rupert in the three preceding campaigns, and risen to the rank of a sergeant; but having, in the battle of Newbury, received a wound in his sword arm, he had petitioned for, and obtained his discharge; and retired soon after to his native village. He was its oracle in military matters; and being very intelligent, and an excellent loyalist and churchman, was a great favourite with Mr. Tresham and his daughters.
"Why, sir," he replied, "'tis as great a thing, in one way, as the King ever did; and it will put spirit into the army. But this plundering a town on Sunday, 'tis against the nature of things; no good ever came on't, nor ever will; and that's the plain truth."
"But you know," said Agatha, "that the officers did all in their power to prevent it."
" So they did, so they did; but it's no use arguing,--it's a bad job. Denton, down there, was telling how Colonel Tresham rode up and down all day, preventing outrages; --ay, Mistress Agatha, and Colonel Trelawney too; and it was well done of them, surely."
"Do you think this will make the King alter his plan of going north?" asked Mr. Tresham.
"Like enough it may, sir," answered the sergeant; "for Leicester--many's the time I've stood guard there, when we had it before--is a large place, and wants a good garrison; and the King has none too many men, I guess, to spare."
"Think you," said the clergyman, "they will try to recover it at once?"
"Hardly yet, sir; there is not force round about those parts, that I know of, to draw together to a head; and our side is too strong for them to think of such a thing just yet. They will be keeping a sharp eye upon it, however; that I'll be bound. Good evening, sir."
"Good evening, Fletcher; if you hear any news, be sure to come up to us with it."
The rector and his daughters next passed a group to whom Denton was describing the storm with much animation, and discoursing fluently of counterscarps, embankments, barbicans, bastions, and embrasures, to the great edification of his hearers; foremost among whom, in an ecstasy of pride and delight, was his mother. After a few words of congratulation, they proceeded to Widow Maurice's cottage.
It stood at some little distance from the village, and the way lay through one of those lanes, once the chief beauties of our country,--now fast disappearing before modern improvements. It was through a deep cut in sandstone; beeches and filberts and young oaks anchored in the red fragments of rock, and threw a cool green shade over the lane below; and the birds on each side seemed chanting their vesper hymn.
The cottage of affliction lay on the other side. The widow was sitting in the chair where she had been knitting when the news reached her; her face was hid in her hands,--while her gossips were officiously tormenting her with the usual topics of consolation; miserable comforters indeed! The entrance of the clergyman made her look up; and well did he prove his title to be a servant of Him Who was sent to bind up the broken-hearted, by the tenderness and skill with which he spoke to her. He bade her not to sorrow, as those that have no hope; he reminded her of many little circumstances calculated to give her hope that her son had been called from the heat and tumult of battle into the land of everlasting peace; he laid before her GOD'S promises of consolation and support in trial, and of especial tenderness to the widow; and finally, left her calm, if not cheerful.
It was now dusk; and his horse having been somewhat refreshed, Denton was eager to make the best use of the night for his journey. Charged with more than one letter, and bearing every kind message for both Herbert and Trelawney, he mounted his horse, and, favoured by a bright moon, started on his return; and the village resumed its usual quiet and repose.
The spot, which angels deign'd to grace,
Is bless'd, though robbers haunt the place.
WEEK rolled on, and brought with it no events of particular importance. It was now generally known that the King's northern expedition was abandoned, in consideration of the diminution which his forces had received, as well from the loss sustained in the storm of Leicester, as from the garrison placed there subsequently. After marching to Market Harborough, he finally took up his head-quarters at Daventry; there intending to await the further motions of the enemy. Fairfax was unfortunate everywhere; he had been unable to make any impression on Oxford; and had discouraged his troops by his unsuccessful attempt on Borstall House; after which, he retreated to Buckingham; whence, it was rumoured, he was preparing to march northward.
The evening of Wednesday, the nth of June, 1645, was cold and stormy; the wind swept through the parsonage garden at Scaldwell, driving heaps of leaves before it, as if it had been autumn, and howling mournfully round the old porch and high-pitched gables. Now and then, the moon would peep through the drifting clouds for a moment, as if to reveal more distinctly how great was the fury of the tempest. Mr. Tresham was in his study, deeply engaged in a perusal of Bishop Montague's posthumous work,--Annals of the Christian Church, which, though published two years, had only then, for the first time, found its way into Northamptonshire; his daughters were quietly pursuing some article of household work, and occasionally remarking on the violence of the storm, or drawing an imaginary picture of the position of the army in which their brother served, and where it might be his lot, on such a night, to be bivouacked. It was about nine o'clock, when old Bates, Mr. Tresham's servant, announced that Sergeant Fletcher desired to speak to his master.
"Tell him to step in, John," said the rector, closing the volume, and stopping short in an elaborate discussion on the principles and extraordinary success of the Donatists.
"He says, sir, that he had rather speak to your honour alone."
"Well, well; ask him to step in first, and let me hear him for myself."
The servant withdrew; and in a few moments re-entered, ushering in the sergeant, whose whole appearance proved him to have been for some hours exposed to the wind and rain.
"Why, sergeant, where have you been on such a night as this? You should have a better care of yourself. My cellar is not very rich; but a cup of canary were not, methinks, amiss, in keeping off the cold."
"Thank your reverence, kindly; but an old soldier like me cares but little for such a sprinkling as this: and I have that to say which must be said at once; and, if you so willed it, alone."
"I have no secrets from my daughters, Fletcher, if what you have to say concerns me; if otherwise, of course I am at your service."
"I thought the young ladies might be frightened to hear it, sir; but if you think not, I will out with it at once."
"They are a clergyman's daughters, sergeant, and ought not to be so easily terrified as others. So, now your story, whatever it is."
"Well then, sir, to make a long matter short, the enemy is not so far off as we thought."
"What mean you? Fairfax? Why, where is he, then?"
"To-night he lies at Northampton; and they say marches northward to-morrow."
There was a pause. "GOD'S will be done!" said the rector, at length. "We are spared from the uncertainty as to the course to be pursued, which might be the portion of others. My duty is plain,--to abide by my village, and not to desert those few poor sheep in the wilderness. My daughters, too, must stay with me; for, alas! I have no place of safety to which to send them."
"If you told me to leave you," returned Agatha, "it would be the first time in my life I ever wilfully disobeyed you; but I do not think you would have the heart to tell me so. Where can we be so safe as with you?"
"Well, my child, GOD has graciously ordered that we are not to be separated. Come, Rose; no tears! Sergeant Fletcher must not think that the family of one of CHRIST'S soldiers is less ready to look trouble or danger in the face, than one of this world's. I should be ashamed, when our Church is suffering so grievously, to dwell at ease, and have no share in her afflictions: I should begin to fear, lest, forasmuch as we were not counted worthy to be fellow sharers of her lot, and of that of her Master here, we should not be partakers of it hereafter."
"But I know how the rebels have treated clergymen in other villages," said poor Rose, sobbing; "and if you should fall into their power, what would become of you?"
"Well, Rose, and what then? 'If ye be reproached for the name of CHRIST,'--go on with the text."
"'Happy are ye,'" answered Rose. "I know it is wrong, very wrong. I will try to behave like Agatha. There, Sergeant Fletcher; you may look at me now; (for the sergeant had considerately turned away his head.) But tell us, how did you find out the news?"
"I heard this afternoon, from a farmer who had been at Northampton, that Fairfax's scoutmaster was there; and the report went, that the Roundheads would be there to-night. So I borrowed Farmer Downton's grey colt, and away directly. I could not get into the town--the crop-eared knaves know a trick worth two of that--and not having the pass-word, I was like enough to have found gratis lodgings in Northampton gaol. But Fairfax is there, sure enough; and the magistrates presented him with the freedom of the town, or some such foolery, in a silver box: marry, the shell was better than the kernel. And Master Dell, beshrew him! was to preach,--to exercise, I should say,--in Peter's, as they call it, this evening."
"Well now, Fletcher," said Mr. Tresham, "you must often have been in situations like this, and I know we may depend on you. What can we do, by way of preparation, if the army should pass this village tomorrow?"
"Why, sir, GOD helps them that help themselves, as Prince Rupert used to say. For yourselves and the village you can do little enough: but for the church, you may, if you choose, do a great deal."
"If the Roundheads should come upon it as it is now, depend upon it, by this time to-morrow, there won't be an inch of stained glass left. I know how quick they are at any thing of the kind. And the great gilt screen will stand no chance, nor the pillars either, I fear, unless something be done to them. However, they hate the glass most of all."
"But what in the world are we to do with it?" asked the rector.
"Take it out, sir, and bury it in some field hard by," replied the sergeant. "It will be there for years, and be none the worse at the end. And as to the pillars, if you whitewash them, and paint the screen, it may be they'll escape. But if not, I've seen enough of these things to know what will go with them."
"Whitewash that beautiful stone!" exclaimed Agatha; "why, one might as well break it up at once."
"Oh no; a little scrubbing will soon set it to rights. I'll warrant you, sir, those pillars will be standing, when Fairfax, and that double-distilled knave, Cromwell, are hanged and forgotten."
"Your plan seems, I must confess, a sensible one," said Mr. Tresham. "But we have no time to lose, if we mean to do anything to-night. Where are we to get whitewash?"
"Farmer Downton was just going to whitewash his new cottage, and there is plenty of lime and so forth lying about the premises. I'll go down and settle with him, if your honour will give me leave. He's true to the backbone; and with him, and me, and two or three more, we'll soon reform the church, almost as well as the Roundheads themselves could do it."
"Go, then, Fletcher, and see what you can get at once. You will find me in the church, whenever you come there."
As soon as the sergeant, proud to be of such importance, was gone, Mr. Tresham said, "John shall stay here with you while I am gone;--I dare say we shall not be very long. It is easy to destroy," he added, with a melancholy smile.
"Can I be of any use?" asked Agatha. "I would fain do all I could in so good a cause."
"No, my child," said Mr. Tresham; "this is not the night for you to face. All you can do to help the Church must be in the way of prayer."
After bidding his daughters good night, the rector, provided with a dark lantern, bent his way to the church. The storm was more furious than ever; the churchyard gate blew to with a noise which almost startled him; the wind moaned among the few headstones, and rustled in the long grass of the graves; and the vane on the tower creaked and screamed as it veered round to every quarter of the compass. The key turned with difficulty in the old massy lock; and Mr. Tresham, having closed the door, had full leisure to meditate on the present posture of affairs.
And no wonder if his thoughts took somewhat of a gloomy turn. Even in one of our churches, pewed and galleried as they now are, none but those who have tried it, can imagine the solemnity of an evening hour spent alone. And then, when only a few carved oak seats filled the nave, and the light of the lantern shot dimly into the vast " valley" of the high-pitched roof, faintly discovering the angels, who seemed to guard the church with their outstretched wings, and the quaint carvings of hammer-beam and pendentive, and the sculptured wreaths of flowers which festooned the cornice; or, flashing on the rich dark windows, shadowed out the effigies of Bishops, and Saints, and warriors, and Virgin souls, each in its own delicate niche, all bearing the holy and heavenly repose wherewith our glass-stainers loved to invest their portraits; or fell on the carved Rood-screen, in all the glory of its painting and gilding; or, piercing into the Chancel, discovered the Altar, with its two candlesticks, emblems that CHRIST is "a light to lighten the Gentiles, as well as the glory of His people Israel:"--all these seemed indeed to bespeak the House of GOD and the gate of heaven. And with bitter feelings did the rector exclaim, " He that hewed timber aforetime out of the thick trees, was known to bring it to an excellent work: but now they break down all the carved work thereof with axes and hammers." And, advancing to the Altar, he knelt down before its newly-erected rails, and poured out his soul in prayer for the poor Church in England; that GOD would be pleased, if it were His holy will, to shorten the time of her trial, or to endue her with patience and fortitude to support it; that He would direct the counsels and prosper the arms of the King; that He would restrain his armies from running to any excess of riot; that He would bless his friends, and soften the hearts of his enemies. He prayed, too, for his own flock, with respect to the affliction which seemed to be coming on them; that none might fall away in time of persecution: and for his own family,--and earnestly did he beseech GOD to turn the heart of him who was engaged, if not in fighting for, at least in counselling, the rebels. He rose from prayer strengthened and refreshed, and walked up and down the church meditating on the 42nd Psalm, which seemed peculiarly applicable to the time and place. If he could say, "Now, when I think on these things, I pour out my heart by myself; for I went with the multitude, I brought them forth into the House of GOD, with the voice of joy and praise, among such as keep holyday;" he could also add, " Why art thou so cast down, O my soul, and why art thou so disquieted within me? O put thy trust in GOD, for I shall yet praise Him.' Some time had passed, when he heard the latch of the church door raised, and was well pleased to see Fletcher, Farmer Downton, and one or two others, whom he knew to be staunch churchmen, enter. They brought with them two buckets of limewash, a ladder, hammers and chisels, and two pieces of tarpauling, which the good farmer had taken from his haystacks, to their imminent detriment.
"You come on a sad errand, Mr. Churchwarden," said the rector to Farmer Downton, as he shook hands with him.
"Ay, ay, sir! GOD grant we may have the setting the mischief to rights ere long, which we shall do tonight."
"And now," said the rector, "as we are going to commence what looks so much like sacrilege, let us ask GOD'S pardon for the necessity which is laid on us of profaning His Holy Temple, and His blessing in our endeavours to preserve the church and ourselves."
They knelt down, and Mr. Tresham offered up a brief but earnest petition. When they had risen, "Now, sir," said Sergeant Fletcher, who assumed the direction of affairs, "we have no time to lose. Master Downton, lend a hand with the ladder to the east window; we will look to that first. And do you, Tom Brown, set your bucket against this pillar, and whitewash it as fast as you can."
The ladder was fixed, and Fletcher, mounting it, began to take the glass out, keeping it, as far as possible, in the leads. The churchwarden stood on one of the lowest steps of the ladder, and handed it down to his other labourer, Will Sharp, who stood below, and deposited it safely in a large basket, or hamper, brought for that purpose. There was a representation of the Crucifixion in the central lights, with S. Mary and the beloved Apostle; the side lights were filled with various Saints, and above and below were the founder's arms. All the glass was removed in about half an hour; for Fletcher, in spite of his lame arm, worked well and cleverly; and the larger piece of tarpauling was then spread over the window to keep out the rain, which had by this time begun to abate. The side windows were next dealt with after the same fashion, very little of the glass being injured; and by the time all was safely secured, the light began to dawn. The piers had by this time been thoroughly covered with lime, and their beauty so much disfigured that it was reasonable to hope they might escape. The same material speedily effaced the painting and gilding of the Roodscreen, and then Fletcher, looking up at the roof, said, "That the Roundheads may as well take down as we; for I could not move it, even if I had time, without spoiling it: but the Font-cover I think we may bestow somewhere out of the way."
"Put it in the loft of my great barn," said Farmer Downton; " no one will ever think of looking for it there."
"A bright thought, Mr. Churchwarden; so we will. But now, sir, if you will please to come with us, it will be as well that all of you should see where the glass is buried, that so, if so he one or more of us should die before it may be safely recovered, some of us may remain to point out the place of its concealment."
The whole party, therefore, adjourned to one of Farmer Downton's fields, where Fletcher, after hesitating for some little time, made choice of a dry ditch that bounded into one side. He directed the men to dig in a particular part; and when the whole was covered, and rubbish thrown in to conceal the excavation, he said, "Now, while this willow tree stands, you will remember that our treasure lies close to it; if it should be destroyed, you can take notice that the spot is twenty paces from the south-east corner of the field. I think we can hardly lose it; but one had need to be careful; for I know one or two places where the churchwardens hid the glass by themselves, and are dead since, and there is no knowledge where it is."
The Rouennaises have a complimentary proverb, with reference to one of their parish churches,--Elle est belle comme les vitrailles de S. Patrice; and somewhat of the same feeling prevailed amongst the inhabitants of Scald well, with respect to their little church. The outcry, therefore, raised on the following morning, when it was discovered that the whole of the glass was removed, was proportionate. A little crowd soon assembled in the churchyard, some bewailing the robbery, some execrating the hands which were guilty of it; all joining in wonder at the manner in which the deed was performed. The tarpauling waved sluggishly to and fro in the breeze; and when one or two climbed up to the window-sill, and drew it aside, the change in the interior of the church raised the popular indignation still higher.
"And what news, my masters?" said Sergeant Fletcher, as he joined the village rustics. "Why in the world are those windows covered with tarpauling?"
Five or six voices explained the matter together.
"Ay, ay," quoth the sergeant; "some of the Roundheads' doings, I warrant me; it's not the first glass they have made away with; marry, an things alter not for the better, it will not be the last."
"But, master sergeant," said one of the group, "this is not the way those folks generally go to work. Look you here! the panes have not been smashed, but carried away bodily; and there is not a broken piece to be seen inside or outside."
"And I could be sworn," said another, "that the panes were not removed from the outside: the man must have been within that did it."
"Besides," suggested a third, "who could have got to the pillars, to daub them over?"
Several ran to examine the church door, and found it locked. The sergeant marvelled at his own folly in not leaving it open; but said--
"Why, what could be easier than when some of the glass was moved, for the thief to get inside, and then finish the business? And who would have worked last night in the open air, if he could anyhow get under shelter?"
This explanation seemed generally satisfactory; but one shrewd fellow observed--
"Then, if they did it to harm the church, why put up the tarpauling to keep the wet out?"
"Perhaps," suggested Master Fletcher, driven to his wit's end, "that was to prevent their lights--for lights they must have had--being seen."
No better solution offering itself, this was generally adopted; and the rector and churchwarden at the same time making their appearance, helped to pacify the people, and sent off to Kettering--Northampton being in the hands of the enemy--for white glass: Farmer Downton consenting that his tarpaulin should remain to protect the church till the windows should be reglazed.
The day wore tediously away with the rector's family, who were in constant dread of a visit of some of the parliamentary forces. Several of the churches in Northampton were purified; and one of them, All Saints, so much injured, that it could never be used again; and was, after the Restoration, replaced by the great Grecian building which bears its name, and is most incongruously ornamented with a statue of King Charles the Second (who gave the timber necessary for the works), on the pediment of the portico. But the troops were confined to the town and its immediate suburbs, and not a soldier was seen in or near the village. The younger portion of the villagers, who had never seen an army, and were curious to behold for themselves that of which they had heard so much, were somewhat disappointed at this: the elder blessed GOD for having thus far preserved them unharmed.
My son, of those old narrow ordinances
Let us not speak too lightly ....
The way of ancient ordinance, though it wind,
Is yet no devious way.--WALLENSTEIN.
THE course of our story now transports us to London, and introduces us to a character of whom we have hitherto heard little, and that little, unfavourable. Basil Tresham, the second son of Mr. Tresham, had been intended by his father for the law; and had, therefore, been sent, some few years before the period of which we write, to study in London. He had naturally been of a free and gay disposition; and, therefore, the surprise and sorrow of his family were great, when, after an absence of two years, he returned among them an altered man, gloomy, morose, and unsociable; taking no part in those old-fashioned hearty sports where he and his brother had formerly excelled, and acting as a complete check to the social schemes of enjoyment of which the good rector was a great admirer and deviser.
His father, in answer to his inquiries, could obtain nothing but vague and unsatisfactory answers: his sisters' half-surmises, half-questionings, were not a whit more successful; and Herbert's raillery only made him the more gloomy. Once only did he at all hint at the real cause of his changed manner and disposition; and that once was to Rose.
"What! more mistletoe brought in?" said he, one winter afternoon. "Will there never be an end of these fooleries?"
"Of these fooleries?" repeated Rose, in surprise. "Why, Basil, no one once entered more into them than yourself. It is Twelfth-night, you know."
"It is a bad way of celebrating our SAVIOUR'S Manifestation to the Gentiles,--keeping Twelfth-night, as you term it,--to pass the time in fooleries like these, meet only for the play-house, or like haunts of Satan, to the total forgetting why He was manifested in the flesh. It is a heathen custom, and very fit to be discouraged."
"But I do not see that we need forget why our LORD came on earth, because we celebrate a joyful time joyfully. The Church, you know, has always done so."
"The Church? The Romish Church, you mean: the mother of witchcrafts and all abominations: she that is drunk with the blood of saints and martyrs--she has, I know: but what is she, that we should imitate her?"
"Well, well," said Rose, smiling, "I cannot argue with you; but there is, you know, a text, 'Rejoice with them that do rejoice;' and that, I hope, you will remember to-night." And so the conversation ended.
On his return to London, Basil connected himself more and more closely with the party whom he had unfortunately been seduced to follow: he became acquainted with most of the popular puritan divines; and was closely ensnared by them before his father had any idea of his danger. But in one of his communications home, few and short in general, he mentioned in terms of great approbation, a sermon delivered by that godly and painful preacher, Master Henry Burton, who had just returned in triumph to London, from the imprisonment to which he had been sentenced by the Star-chamber, for libellous and seditious language. On receiving this notification, and hearing from other quarters of the rebellious spirit then generally pervading the London pulpits, Mr. Tresham lost no time in commanding his son's instant return: and after the delay of a week, received a long epistle setting forth, that after consulting with divers godly ministers, and true preachers of the word, they did all agree in testifying that as things then stood, for Basil to return to his father's house, would be a leaving of Canaan and going back again into Egypt, a becoming subject to ordinances, which all were to perish with the using: in short, an abiding in Meshech, and a dwelling among the tents of Kedar. The letter also set forth, that worthy Master Pym, being in need of a secretary, had offered him that post, and that he was forthwith to enter on its duties.
Mr. Tresham, on the receipt of this letter, entertained the idea of himself going to London, but was deterred by the danger which would have attended his appearance there, for he was somewhat of a marked man, and the consideration of what he owed to the other members of his family. He, therefore, despatched the following letter:--
"Who or what kind of godly men they be that could give counsel to a son to disobey his father, as I know not, so I care not greatly to enquire. Yet have I heard of those who taught, 'If thou shalt say Corban, in whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me, and honour not his father and his mother, he shall be free:' also I have read that which was said of them, 'Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.' My will therefore is, that, on the receipt hereof, you repair home instantly; which failing to do you shall incur my heavy displeasure. So I rest
Your affectionate but sorrowful Father,
This letter almost prevailed on Basil to return; but happening to show it to Master Anthony Case, a then popular preacher with the House of Commons, he was so pressed with texts on the duty of giving up all things for the kingdom of heaven, of hating father and mother for CHRIST'S Sake, and the like, that he determined on persisting in his former resolution; and not being able to frame a suitable reply to his father's injunctions, he left them unanswered. At the setting up of the royal standard, when all men had to take a decided position on the side of rebellion or loyalty, he despatched a brief epistle to his father, setting forth, that he had cast his lot in with the saints, and must expect their tribulations in this world, as he hoped to share their glory in the next; and exhorting his family to follow his example. Since then, all communications between them had of course ceased; and Basil had only heard of his mother's death through circuitous channels.
For a time, he was well satisfied with the step he had taken. The monstrous crimes laid to the charge of many of the clergy in the petitions which poured in by shoals to Mr. Pym, convinced him that a Church, the lives of whose sons were so scandalous, could not be the Church of GOD. He saw or fancied he saw, that the lives of those with whom he associated were pure and irreproachable; he knew that oaths and profanity, and loose talking, unhappily too prevalent among the cavaliers, were carefully avoided by them: his patron in particular was exemplarily devout, would never take his place in Parliament without having attended a morning exercise, and kept the appointed fasts with extraordinary rigour. He had yet to learn that these men were like whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but within are full of dead men's bones and of all uncleanness. If at times he thought their language too strong, and their measures too precipitate, he reassured himself by referring to that part of Scripture which their preachers were never weary of quoting, the Book of Judges; and in the fearful vengeance taken by GOD on the idolatrous nations of Canaan, he seemed to trace out a parallel to the cruelties exercised by Parliament on the true and unflinching sons of the Church. He would sometimes reproach himself for his tender-heartedness; and tremble when he recollected the punishment inflicted on Saul, for not utterly destroying the Amalekites, and on Ahab, for sparing the life of Benhadad.
The first thing which somewhat shook his confidence in his new directors, occurred about six months previously to the time of which we write. Mr. Lenthall (whose secretary Basil became, on the death of Pym) was going down to the House, which then met about noon, and putting in the hands of his secretary a petition from Northamptonshire, with a long list of names, and another, to which no names were attached, directed that the latter should be substituted for the former, and the parchment, so amended, sent down after him to the House.
Basil, feeling interested in anything which came from his native county, read the first petition attentively. He found its purport to be for a godly and preaching ministry: it contained nothing offensive in itself, and its whole tone of expression was much more gentle than that usually adopted in petitions of a similar character. In looking over the names, he saw the signatures of some whose hands, he was certain, would never have been affixed to such a document at all, more especially when addressed to a body professedly in rebellion against its sovereign; among others, those of his father and eldest brother. He then read the other document which he was directed to substitute for this, and found it to be a most virulent composition, breathing the bitterest hatred to prelacy, as one of the rags of Antichrist: demanding the disuse of the surplice, the celebration of the Lord's Supper sitting, the abolition of the Cross in Baptism, and the ring in marriage; the suspension of all dumb-dogs, as it termed unpreaching ministers; and the speedy death of Laud. Basil's first impression was one of horror at the deceit; his next, that some mistake must have been made; and he determined on sending neither petition, but awaiting the return of the Speaker. Lenthall, however, sent a messenger for the document, and Basil, fully convinced that he should have his patron's thanks for detecting the mistake, put the original parchment, unaltered, into his hands.
Lenthall returned late, and in no placid mood.
"Master Tresham," said he, angrily, "how came it the petition I gave you was not substituted for that which you sent?"
"Worthy sir, because I deemed there must be some mistake."
"Some mistake! there was indeed! Why, all the names I had collected with so much labour were appended to a petition of straw! Some mistake! Why, when I pressed for the reading, nothing doubting that it would have preached the House a rare sermon, that befel me which happened unto godly Aaron,--there came out this calf. Some mistake! And where should the mistake be?"
"I thought, worthy sir, that it savoured of deceit to put the names of those who subscribed one petition under another, of which perchance they might not have approved."
"Ah, brother!" returned Lenthall, softening, for he was not naturally a hasty man, " I forgot that thou art but just free from prelatical darkness, and knowest not as yet the glorious liberty of the saints. Did not Rahab deceive the messengers, and was it not counted to her for a praise? Did not the godly midwives lie unto Pharaoh, and yet they were rewarded of GOD?"
"But," argued Basil, encouraged by his patron's mildness, " is it not written, Do not evil that good may come?"
"Yea," answered Lenthall; " but that, as it was well expounded by worthy Master Burton last Sabbath, is to be understood with a limitation. For evil there signifieth not absolutely evil, but evil of an heinous kind; and good signifieth not good in itself, but good that is of little worth. So that Paul saith there, Do not great evil, for the sake of gaining little good. Moreover, they to whom he wrote, yea, he himself, were in the oldness of the letter; and not to be accounted patterns, in that particular, for us who are free."
Basil had, in his younger years, been a great reader of plays; and a line from a drama he had formerly admired rushed into his mind: "The devil can quote Scripture for his purpose;" biut he instantly rejected it, as a suggestion of the evil one himself.
This event, though for a time it somewhat shook Basil Tresham's confidence, that the cause of his friends was the cause of GOD, soon ceased to give him any uneasiness; for the habit of imagining that the end justifies the means became easy by practice. But frauds of a more heinous nature even than the last were frequently suspected, even if they could not be said to be proved, by Basil. Clergymen, whom he well knew to be of the most exemplary character, were accused by their parishioners as well of malignity and disaffection to the Parliament, as of scandalous life and manners: and these accusations were made the ground of summoning them before the House, or appointing a lay commission to sit upon them in their own parish. Were we to believe the various charges on which the suffering clergy of England were condemned, in many cases, unheard, we should have to confess that men of more dissolute and abandoned lives never disgraced any Church; whereas, in reality, for eminent holiness and purity, no set of clergy, since the days of the Primitive Church, had ever surpassed our own. Basil was well acquainted with White, the chairman of the Committee of Ejectment, and the author of The Century of Scandalous Ministers; and could not but be shocked with the eagerness of that Puritan in snatching at any scandal, however ill-authenticated, and in omitting any palliating or justifying circumstance, however well attested. He was also pained beyond measure at the manner in which Prynne published Archbishop Laud's journal, professedly for the purpose of exciting popular indignation against him: the suppression or insertion of negatives, and the like, which are everywhere to be found in it. Still, he thought, a good cause has often been carried on by bad instruments; yet, it must be confessed, his zeal for the cause having been principally founded on the opinion he entertained of the personal piety of its promoters, with his belief of the latter his confidence in the former speedily declined. He contrasted the long, irreverent, garrulous prayers of Case, or Knewstubb, or Spurstow, or Calamy, with the sober, earnest, devotion of the Liturgy to which he had been accustomed; their furious and bloodthirsty harangues, with the "peace to men of peace," which his father had been used to announce.
Such was the state of things when the trial of Laud commenced; and Basil, with the leave of his patron, was a patient hearer of it day by day. He listened with silent admiration to that wonderful defence, the most wonderful, perhaps, that ever fell from the lips of a prisoner, and imagined that his enemies could never have the heart to proceed. However, though he perceived that such was their intention, when the Archbishop, being asked why the sentence should not be passed upon him, produced the King's pardon, sealed with the great seal of England, and strangers were ordered to withdraw, he imagined that the debate which ensued would only be on the proper method, under the circumstances, of allowing the pardon; and returned, well satisfied, to his office. Unspeakable, therefore, was his astonishment to hear that an ordinance had passed condemning the Archbishop to be hanged; and it required all his self-command not to express his opinion of the measure in terms which would have endangered himself without benefiting him whom he would have wished to serve. The punishment was afterwards, on the Archbishop's earnest petition, commuted to beheading, not without great opposition on the part of his persecutors.
The evening before the execution (Wednesday, Jan. 9, 1644-5), Tresham was directed by Mr. Lenthall to visit the Archbishop with an offer of spiritual, consolation from two of the Presbyterian divines, It was a bitterly cold evening; and as Basil passed the desecrated Cross at Charing (not caring on such an evening to venture by water), and walked as quickly as he might along the deserted Strand, melancholy indeed were his recollections and anticipations. He thought of the happy group,--happy, if not absolutely, at least comparatively,--then assembled round his father's hearth; and contrasted his sad errand with the peace that dwelt there. The snow fell thick and fast; and as he waited at Temple-bar for admission, his thoughts turned more than ever on the possibility of returning and claiming his father's forgiveness, even as the Prodigal Son, and again mingling with the friends of his childhood. As he passed Tower Hill, there was the sound of axes and busy hammers and voices; and looking up, he beheld the scaffold on which the morrow's tragedy was to be acted. He gladly hastened by it, and on presenting his credentials at the Tower-gate, was ushered by the lieutenant himself across the cheerless court and along the gloomy passages to the prisoner's chamber. The officer having announced a messenger from Worshipful Master Lenthall, left the apartment.
The Archbishop was, as was his wont, walking up and down the room with quick decisive steps: on the table were pens and ink, and some written sheets, containing the speech which he intended to deliver on the morrow. He stopped short as Basil was announced, and seemed to enquire his message.
"I am come," said Tresham, after a pause, "to offer your Grace the services of Dr. Marshall, or Dr. Calamy, or any of the other orthodox divines now in London, to prepare you for to-morrow's trial."
Time was that such a message from such a quarter would grievously have discomposed the Archbishop; as it was, after repeating to himself his favourite text, "Usquequo, Domine, usquequo?" he answered, "I am right willing to believe that the message was meant kindly, and, therefore, I thank Master Lenthall for it; but yet methinks he might have known that by offering me my own chaplain, Dr. Sterne, he should have done me greater service. As it is, if I may have his services, I shall be the more bounden to you; if not, I must even be content with my own; for small consolation could I find in the ghostly comfort of a schismatic."
"I will do your message to Master Lenthall, my Lord," said Basil; and I hope your Grace will believe that it will not be my fault if it be not answered as it should be."
"You do an unkind office but too kindly, young man," said Laud. "What is your name? I would fain know it."
"Basil Tresham, if it please your Grace."
"Tresham! Tresham!" said the Archbishop, who never forgot a name. "Art thou any relation to the good old rector of Scaldwell, Master Herbert Tresham?"
Basil answered in a low voice, "I am his son."
"His son! and consorting with rebels and schismatics! A sorry day must this be for thy father, young man. And what saith he to this thy course of life?"
Basil made no reply.
The Archbishop looked at him,--and the tears were standing in his eyes. He paused, and said kindly, "It is never too late to return to GOD'S Church. Go back, go back to thy father's house, and say to him,--Father, I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son;--so shall you be accepted both of your earthly and your Heavenly Father."
The lieutenant here entered with a servant, bearing supper. The Archbishop continued, "Master Tresham, if you have no more pressing business, perhaps you will share with me the last supper I shall ever need. Master Lieutenant, cause them to set on two more trenchers, and do you yourself join us."
Laud's conversation during supper was more than calm, it was cheerful. He talked with interest of the negotiations then pending; and expressed his confident hope that all would be ordered for the best. When supper was over, and his guests rose to go, he said, "Master Lieutenant, see there be a cup of wine for me on Tower Hill to-morrow. Methinks it will be a cold morning; and I would not have my enemies say that I shivered through fear. And now, Master Tresham, good night. Think, I pray you, of what I have said; and, if it might be so, I would fain have you near me to-morrow. By GOD'S grace, you shall see that a Prelate may meet death like a Christian, whatever William Prynne--GOD forgive him as I do!--hath written, or said, to the contrary."
"I will surely be there," answered Tresham; "and I pray GOD to support and strengthen your Grace; and I humbly beseech your Grace's blessing."
The Archbishop gave it; and Basil, leaving the Tower, made the best of his way to Westminster, where he pleaded so well, that Dr. Sterne, the same who afterwards filled the Chair of York, was allowed free access to the Archbishop on the following morning.
Basil had some acquaintance with Hinde, the shorthand writer employed on the occasion. By his interest he obtained permission to be on the scaffold. Early as it was when he arrived there, Tower Hill was thronged; every window and housetop commanding a view of the spot was crowded to excess; and a band of soldiers was drawn up on each side the scaffold, but not immediately round it. The stillness observed by the populace was most striking; and a remarkable contrast to the yells and groans which had saluted Laud on his way to the Tower. If a laugh were anywhere heard, it was instantly hushed, as desecrating the solemnity of the scene; and men spoke to each other in a low voice, or in whispers, as if afraid to disturb the silence. A little before eleven o'clock, the executioner and his assistant appeared, with a basket of sawdust, which they sprinkled round the block; and shortly afterwards the Martyr, with Dr. Sterne, slowly and calmly ascended the scaffold. There were present, beside Basil, Hinde, the short-hand writer, the lieutenant of the Tower, Marshall, the Presbyterian, and Sir John Clotworthy, a Devonshire knight. Laud recognized Basil with a smile, and coming over to the side where he was, began to address the people. "This," he said, "is an uncomfortable time to preach in, yet I will begin with a text of Scripture:--'Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto JESUS, the Author and Finisher of our faith.' I," he continued, "have been long in my race; and how I have looked unto JESUS, He best knows. I am now come to the end of my race, and here I find the cross, a death of shame; but the shame must be despised, or no coming to the right hand of GOD. JESUS despised the shame for me; and GOD forbid I should not despise the shame for Him. I am going apace," he proceeded, "towards the Red Sea, and my feet are on the very brink of it; an argument, I hope, that GOD is bringing me into the Land of Promise; for that was the way through which He led His people." Then, after glancing at the malice of his enemies, and alluding to the natural shrinking from a violent death, which he could not but feel, he proceeded more cheerfully,--"I know my GOD, Whom I serve, is as able to deliver me from this sea of blood, as He was the Three Children from the furnace. And, I most humbly thank my SAVIOUR for it, my resolution is as their's was: they would not worship the image which the king had set up, nor will I the paginations which this people are setting up. Nor will I forsake the Temple and Truth of God, to follow the bleating of Jeroboam's calves in Dan and in Bethel." He proceeded to notice the "great clamour raised, that he should have brought in popery;" and proved admirably that "the pope had never such an harvest since the Reformation, as he hath upon the sects and divisions that are now among us." After this, having mentioned the king, and the city of London, he went on:--"The third particular is, the poor Church of England. It hath flourished, and been a shelter to other neighbouring Churches when storms have driven upon them. But alas! now it is in a storm itself; and GOD only knows whether, or how, it shall get out. And, which is worse than a storm from without, it has become like an oak cleft to shivers with wedges made out of its own body, and at every wedge profaneness and irreligion are pouring in." He then spoke of himself,--his innocence of the crime for which he was to die, however grievous a sinner in other respects; and concluded, by asking the people to join with him in prayer. Every word of this beautiful sermon went to Basil's heart; and when it was finished, and Laud knelt in prayer, he followed him earnestly. Sir John Clot-worthy, referring to the flush which, from the excitement of speaking, was on the Martyr's cheek, said, in an audible whisper, "Lo you there! the son of Belial hath painted his face!" "I pray you peace," returned Basil; "if you cannot comfort, do not insult." And a full refutation of this wretched calumny was given when the Archbishop's head was held up by the executioner to the people; it was then as pale as ashes. As soon as he rose, Clotworthy tauntingly asked him, "What is the comfortablest saying a dying man can have?" and the Archbishop calmly replied, "Cupio dissolvi et esse cum CHRISTO--I have a desire to depart and to be with CHRIST." But as the other continued his interruption, he turned to the executioner; and observing through the crevices of the scaffold, which had been hastily and imperfectly put together, a crowd of people, he desired they might be removed, "lest," as he continued, "my innocent blood should fall upon their heads.'" This took some little time, and Laud, turning to the lieutenant, said, "I pray you let me have an end of this misery; I have borne it over long." With that, putting off his doublet, he knelt by the block, and said:--
"LORD, I am coming as fast as I can. I know I must pass through the shadow of death, before I can come to see Thee. But it is but umbra mortis, a mere shadow of death, a little darkness upon nature; but Thou, through Thy Merits and Passion, hast broke through the jaws of death. So, LORD, receive my soul, and have mercy upon me; and bless this land with peace and charity, that there may not be this effusion of Christian blood among them, for JESUS CHRIST His sake, if it be Thy will." At last, after a pause, he continued, "Lord JESUS, receive my spirit!" and Tresham turned away his head. There needed no second blow, for the executioner was well skilled in his miserable trade, and was the same who, four years later, beheaded the King. It was noted of him, that he afterwards died raving, under circumstances of peculiar horror.
Understanding that the Archbishop was to be buried in All Hallows, Barking, a church of his own patronage and jurisdiction, and determining to follow him to the grave, Basil kept close to the coffin. On arriving, followed by an enormous crowd, near the south door of that church, a halt was made by the brave friends who bore the coffin; and though it was high treason to use any part of the Church service, Dr. Sterne advanced from the inside, in surplice, scarf, and hood, with the Prayer-book in his hands, and began those sublime words,--"I am the Resurrection and the Life, saith the Lord; he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me, shall never die." The crowd instinctively removed their hats, and such as were nearest pressed into the church, where the service was solemnly concluded, and the Archbishop quietly committed to his temporary resting-place.
That Romanists should deny the claim of Archbishop Laud to the title of Martyr, is of course only what might be expected. That Dissenters should denounce his memory, is equally natural. But that professing members of the Church should join with them in condemning one who, during a life of seventy years, laboured for her welfare, who sacrificed all he had for her good, and who cheerfully and willingly laid down his life for her, proves only the lamentable power which prejudice and a sectarian spirit have in darkening the understanding, and the want of charity which devotion to a party involves.
"We need not mourn for thee, here laid to rest.
Earth is thy bed, and not thy grave; the skies
Are for thy soul the cradle and the nest;
There live, for here thy glory never dies;
For, like a Christian Knight and champion blest,
Thou didst both live and die: now feed thine eyes
With thy Redeemer's sight; where crown'd with bliss
Thy faith, zeal, merit, well-deserving is."
FAIRFAX'S Tasso, iii. 68.
The whole scene made so deep an impression on the mind of Basil, that had he been able to obtain leave of absence, he would have left London instantly; but while waiting for a convenient time, he was seized with an illness which held him for many weeks on the brink of the grave. When he began to recover, his amendment was so slow, that it was the beginning of June before he was able to take his usual exercise; and in that time he had ample space to mourn over his unspeakable guilt and folly, in forsaking the guide of his youth, and to form serious resolutions of returning to the good old ways for the future.
One morning, at the time to which our story has already arrived, while he was meditating on the best and speediest way of making his escape from a, city where he had so grievously erred, he was summoned by Lenthall, who, after congratulating him on his recovery proceeded," Master Tresham, I doubt not that the country air will be a better physician than the leech. We have tidings that Fairfax is at Northampton, and seeketh occasion to fight against the malignants, even as Abner the son of Ner did, when he said unto Joab, 'Let the young men arise and play before us.' Now, the Commons think it not good to stake so much on a single throw; and you are to bear dispatches to the general with that import. Will you undertake the mission?"
Basil's joy was too great to allow of his speaking; but he bowed in token of acquiescence.
"Be ready then early to-morrow morning," said Lenthall; "your place shall be supplied meanwhile." And with these words he bade him farewell.
"When storms are seen, wise men put on their cloaks;
When great leaves fall, then winter is at hand;
When the sun sets, who doth not look for night?
All may be well with us; but if it be,
'Tis more than I expect, or we deserve."
THE royal army had taken up its head-quarters at Daventry; and there, from want of information with respect to the enemy's movements, four days were lost,--four precious days; which, had they been properly employed, might have put a happy termination to the war. On Friday, the thirteenth of June, information was at length received that Sir Thomas Fairfax was at Northampton; the army instantly fell back on Harborough, the intent of the King being to draw together fresh forces from Newark and other places. His present army consisting of less than eight thousand men, appeared to him too small a force to stake a kingdom's fate on. That evening, however, intelligence was received that Fairfax had advanced to Naseby, a village not more than six miles from Harborough; and a council of war was summoned to debate the propriety of instant battle. This council was still sitting; the greatest eagerness prevailed in the army as to its decision; it was reported that voices had been loud and high in debate; and though two or three hours had elapsed since the tent closed, nothing had as yet transpired.
"Trelawney," said Colonel Tresham, who was walking up and down with that officer near the royal tent, and awaiting the issue, "however this matter may end, I have a mind this evening to gallop over to Scaldwell; we cannot be twelve miles thence; and it may be months before I have the like opportunity."
"Have with you," replied Colonel Trelawney, "if you do: I am as anxious as you can be to see the place and its fair mistress once more. We shall have to look well to ourselves at the enemy's outposts, which must lie between us and it."
"Fortunately," said Herbert, "I have just learnt the pass-word from a deserter, who has come in to my regiment; so we are prepared for the worst."
"That is well," remarked the other. "How low the sun is getting! This council will never break up. I hope they will decide the right way."
"You mean for battle," said Tresham. "Well, I scarcely know; there is much to be said on both sides."
"Why, when can we fight better than now, when the army is flushed with its success at Leicester and Hawkesley House, and the Roundheads dispirited by their bad fortune at Oxford and Borstall, and not half-confident in their general, who is scare! gone far enough in villany to serve their turn?"
"You should also recollect," observed Herbert, "that were we to delay only for a week, our force would be doubled, and Fairfax's diminished by desertion."
"Against which," argued Trelawney, "it is to be remembered, that Sir Thomas would, in that case, probably fall back on London, and so escape us."
"He might, certainly," said his friend; "but, you must allow, he does not show any great token at present of wishing to avoid us. If we do fight, it will, after all, be his doing more than ours."
"He probably thinks it must be now or never; for, if he were to retreat again, his character would be ruined with his masters. Still, better retreat than be beaten; and so, methinks, Master Fairfax would judge, if we received any considerable reinforcement."
"We have heard little enough about him," remarked Herbert; "he may be superior to us, for aught we can tell to the contrary. And I further doubt whether a soul in the army knows the exact spot where, at this present moment, he may be."
"That we are like enough to discover for ourselves," answered the other, "and pretty soon too, if this tedious council would but end. And, by my faith! it is over--they are leaving the king's tent. Now, how will it be?" he continued, as Prince Rupert came towards them.
"You will be glad to hear, gentlemen," said the Prince, "that we are to fight to-morrow. Marry, some cowards among us, beshrew them, would have let the knaves escape: but I warrant me we have them now: and call me coward too, if they play fast and loose any more."
Colonel Tresham, after expressing his pleasure, continued, "I was about to ask your Highness leave of absence for a few hours, to visit my family, who live not many miles hence."
"With all my heart," rejoined Rupert, who was in high good humour at having had things his own way; "with all my heart; only don't get taken prisoner; we cannot spare you to-morrow. And you, Colonel Trelawney?"
"I was about to make the same request to your Highness."
"What! your family do not reside near here also ?"
"Not exactly so, please your Highness--but----"
"His future family, and my present one," interrupted Herbert, smiling.
"Oh, oh! " said the Prince, " that is the arrangement, is it? The King will lose a good officer, Trelawney, the day that sees you married. Well, take care of yourselves, gentlemen; and remember the word for to-night is Victory."
In half an hour the friends were urging on their horses at a rapid pace for Brixworth. Their conversation at first turned on the probable event of the morrow; but the loveliness of the evening, and the stillness of the scene, gave it a different turn: and they spoke of Agatha. Trelawney was indulging his fancy with a picture of the time when the troubles should be over, and the King restored, and he himself introducing his bride to the beauties of his Cornish domain; and his friend was sometimes smiling at the fair picture he sketched, sometimes sighing to think it might never be realized, when they entered a narrow lane winding to the south of the high ground of Naseby.
"I more than suspect," said Herbert, "that the enemy is not very far to our left; there are several circumstances which make me think so; and it would be a good safe position, to which Master Fairfax, I imagine, has as little objection as most men. But, if it be so, we shall probably fall in with some of their patroles 'ere long."
"On my honour, I believe you are right," said Trelawney, as they came to a sharp turning in the lane, and saw, at the distance of about twenty yards before them a soldier, pacing to and fro.
"Who goes there?" said the man, presenting his piece.
"Friends," answered Colonel Tresham.
"The word, friends," said the other.
"THE SWORD OF THE LORD AND OF GIDEON," replied Herbert.
"All's well. Good night!" replied the soldier.
"By my faith, Tresham," said his companion, "that was a narrow escape. We should have been hardly put to it, had you not been lucky enough to pick up that piece of information. You must be right in thinking them on that height; how call you it?"
"Naseby Down," said his friend. "Ah! many a time I have watched the sun setting behind it from my father's house, long before I thought of all the troubles that have since come upon us."
"The Prince will find it no easy matter to dislodge the Roundheads from their position, I fear: it is the first soldier-like choice Fairfax has made."
Occasional remarks of this kind served to while away the road till the two friends reached the village of Brix-worth. On entering it, the first glance showed that it was in the hands of the rebels. One of the two hostels, which bore the name of the "GOD encompasseth us," since degenerated into the "Goat and Compasses," was filled with sturdy troopers; some of whom were drinking their black-jacks of ale at the long settle in the common room, and others reposing themselves on low benches placed for their use outside the bow-window, which being thrown open, was no obstacle to conversation with those within. The landlord seemed in high favour with those zealots, and was discussing boldly and freely the chances of the Philistines being delivered into their hands on the morrow. The other hostel, called the George and Dragon, had fared much worse; the obnoxious sign had been taken down, and the landlord somewhat roughly treated, and confined in one of his own cellars, which had first, however, been completely emptied of sundry rare ale casks, and bottles of old wine; the consumption of which made the time pass pleasantly enough to the guests whom he was most unwillingly entertaining.
The two officers had taken the precaution of putting on the sad coloured Genevan cloak and falling ruff, generally adopted by the Puritans, and they therefore fearlessly rode up to water their horses at the first mentioned inn.
The sergeant who commanded the party immediately entered into conversation with them, and in answer to his inquiries was told that they had lately arrived from Worcestershire, and were on their way north, on private business. His party, he said in return, was quartered at Brixworth that evening; but were to join the main body early on the following morning. "If," he continued, "you would fain see a godly reformation, while your horses are a baiting, and would walk up to yonder steeple-house, which men call the church, you would see Corporal Pye hard at work there. The best hand is the corporal, in the kingdom, at purifying the house of Baal: even like Jehoiada, who brake down his temple, and slew Mattan his priest on the altar."
"Gramercy for your advice," said Tresham, "I would fain look on the matter myself."
"I would go with you," continued the sergeant, "but I dare not leave the house to-night. Right godly professors are our men. but a little over addicted to creature comforts. Here, Master Mumbleprayers;" he added, addressing a poor man who stood near, and was evidently listening with disgust and consternation, (he had formerly been parish clerk) "show these worthy gentlemen up to the church, as you call it."
"Do so, my good fellow," said Trelawney, "and I will bestow something on you for your pains."
Brixworth church lies at some little distance west of the village. It is probably the most ancient now existing in the kingdom: one of the few links yet left between us and the Anglo-Saxon Church, which seem to prove, that whether in her primitive simplicity, under S. Alphege, and S. Cuthbert, and S. Bede, in her increase of outward splendor, yet decline of inward purity, in the age of the Plantagenets, in her sufferings at the Reformation, in her temporary downfall at the Rebellion, in the sin of the Revolution, or the deadness of the eighteenth, or the revival of the nineteenth century, the Church of England has ever been one and the same.
"Have you lived long in the parish?" asked Tresham of his guide, by way of opening a conversation with him.
"Seventy-four years, man and boy, come next midsummer, sir," he answered; "and forty of them have I been parish clerk."
"You must have seen some sad changes in that time," remarked Herbert.
"That I have, sir; and this last the worst of all. But mayhap your honours are on the side of the Parliament, and I may get into trouble for speaking my mind. Howsoever, you don't seem as if you would do a mischief to a poor old man."
"Make yourself quite comfortable about us, father," said Trelawney; "we detest the doings of these scoundrels as much as you do. 'GOD and King Charles!' that's our motto."
"GOD bless your honours! I thought you looked to be honest men. Ah, well-a-day! it would have made your hearts bleed to see the goings on at the Parsonage this last week. And yet all the while the villains talked of doing GOD'S work."
"Tell us all about it," said Herbert. "Who was your parson?"
"Parson Towgood, sir; and a better and kinder man there is not in the county, be the other who he may.
And there was Madam Towgood,--GOD rest her soul!--just such another; but she is dead and gone, and taken away from the evil to come. Last Tuesday there came down a messenger from London, with orders to take our parson up there directly, to be tried for his crimes; marry, what they were might have puzzled a wiser head than any that hated him had. Well, sir, it was late at night, and very stormy: Parson Towgood was ill, and in bed, and the doctor was with him. The messenger comes to the door, and brings orders to take him up before Parliament without a moment's delay. It would have moved the Great Turk's heart to see pretty Mistress Agnes: how she wrung her hands and begged them to leave her father only that one night; the doctor, too, said that to move him would be as much as his life was worth. 'Twas all the same to the Roundheads,--have him they would, and must. Mistress Agnes begged hard to be taken too; and after much ado, she had her own way; so the poor old gentleman was had off on horseback to Northampton,--and what has become of him since I know not."
"Well, my good friend," said Trelawney, "you may live to see him back yet,--and I hope you will. Hold, there's a carolus for you. 'Tis a sad thing to be out of employment at your time of life."
"GOD bless and reward your honour! I hope he may come back; but I never expect to live to see it. However, that's all one, so it really comes to pass."
The scene which presented itself to the eyes of the two friends, on entering the church, was one well calculated to prove into what depths of iniquity those who have emancipated themselves from the yoke of the Church are ever ready to fall. In the Aisles of the church some twenty horses were tethered, a temporary partition having been run up from the piers to the wall, of rough deal boards, so as to form several separate stalls. The Nave was filled with troopers,--some laughing, some jesting, some swearing, some drinking, some quarrelling, some sitting round a fire made out of the beautiful fragments of the Roodscreen. At the entrance of the Chancel, several, and among them Corporal Pye, were amusing themselves by shooting at the effigy of our Crucified LORD, which hung in the great eastern window: they had already shivered every other fragment of stained glass, and reserved this for their last and profanest mockery. The organ, richly gilded and ornamented, had been broken up, and some of the soldiers were making discordant noises on its shattered pipes.
The two officers looked at each other without speaking. The poor clerk sat down on the rifled parish chest, and wept like a child. The last rays of the sun streamed in through the dismantled south-western windows, on the wreck of beautiful carving, shattered mullions, broken oak seats, and defaced capitals, showing here and there a fragment of some rich deep moulding, calculated to afford that wonderful play of light and shade, which only the artists of ancient times knew how to give; and lighting up the faces of the church-destroyers as they gloated over the ruin, made it seem, instead of the House of GOD, a Pandemonium. In one corner, a soldier was breaking up a disrobed brass, which bore the effigies of a knight and his lady, great benefactors, each with the hands clasped in prayer,--he with the lion, the emblem of courage, she with the hound, symbolizing faithfulness, at the feet. Neither the gratitude due to these departed worthies, nor the sanctity of the place, nor the beauty of the workmanship, could preserve this memorial; for the legend began, "Of yowre charite praye ffor the sowles"--and ended, " on whoos sowles and all Crysten sowles Jhu have mercy." Another soldier, armed with a long pole, was striking oft the bosses from the roof of the aisles: "they contained," he observed, "some awful papistry;"--on some were sculptured the letters Ihc; on others, Xps; on others again, the Holy Lamb, or the Pelican "in her piety." These were all thrown into the fire as fast as they fell. On the outside of the church might be heard the sound of hammers busily engaged; the lead was being stripped off, under the direction of a pious plumber from Northampton.
"What would the founder of this church have felt," said Herbert at length, "could he have foreseen its ruin? Think of the generations that have little by little added to its beauty; the gladness which filled their hearts when they saw their gifts adding comeliness to the building: their joy in the thought that, 'not unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister these things;' the self-denial and faith in which the building was reared,--and all to be destroyed in a single hour!"
"It is impossible," returned his friend, "that this state of things should continue. GOD must and will avenge His own cause: whether we shall be His instruments therein, I know not; but it will indeed be a blessed work."
"A blessed work, indeed, my masters!" said the corporal, who had now (destroyed the Holy Effigy at which he was aiming, and came forward in time to catch the last words. "A blessed reformation of popish and prelatical mummery have we lived to see."
Tresham bowed; he dared not trust his voice; and he and Trelawney instantly left the church.
"Well," said the corporal, "that's what I can't understand. Tom Henderson, know you who those strangers are?"
"Not I, corporal; sons of Heth, I much fear me; for they did not seem to enter into our good work like true Protestants."
"I wish you would follow them, and note whither they are bound; it may much concern us."
"Wait half a second," said Henderson, "till I have, settled with this fellow;" dealing at the same time a tremendous blow on the face of a priest, carved in alabaster, the canopy of which he had been previously mutilating.
The clerk took advantage of the delay, and leaving the church quickly, ran down the hill after the two officers. "For the love of heaven, gentlemen," he said, "take care of yourselves. They suspect you up at the church, and will follow you! GOD bless you for your kindness to me! I dare not stay longer with you."
So saying, he crept through a hedge at the side of the lane, and disappeared. Tresham and his friend, after a brief consultation, came to the conclusion that, under such circumstances, to prosecute their intended journey would be most ill-advised; and, accordingly, having called for their reckoning, they rode off at a quick pace for Harborough, before Henderson had completed his work of devastation.