"They may boast of their Fairfax, their Waller, and all
The roundheaded rebels of Westminster Hall;
But tell these bold traitors of London's proud town
That the spears of the north have encircled the crown."
THE morning of the eventful fourteenth of June broke beautifully and calmly over our village, and seemed to promise a bright blue summer day. The rector, who had slept but little, walked out early in his garden,--a piece of ground laid out with no small care in the formal fashion of the age. He pondered on the strange contrast between the quiet of the spot where he stood, and the uproar which, as he well knew, must be going on at the distance of a few short mileg| He wondered, too, whether his son would be engaged in the action which (there could be no doubt) would that day take place, and whether he would be restored safely again to his home. While engaged in such thoughts, he heard the trampling of a horse at the garden-gate, and Sergeant Fletcher, alighting from it, wished him a good morning and a fortunate day.
"And whither bound, Sergeant Fletcher?" asked the clergyman. "You seem setting out on a journey." "Down to Naseby, sir, down to Naseby; they will meet there. The rebels know their position too well to think of leaving it; and the Prince will never be satisfied without a stroke at them. If I can get any news there you shall have it as soon as may be. The enemy, you see, lie between us and the King, or I would have been in the camp before now; howsoever, I may chance to pick up something, and I mean to be there betimes."
"Take care of yourself, Fletcher; remember how important your life is to us all."
"Ay, ay, sir; it's not the first time I've been among the Roundheads. As the day gets on, sir, I would keep pretty much in-doors, for there are sure to be stragglers about, who may be after no good. Whatever happens, I hope to bring you some news before long."
"GOD grant you prove a happy messenger! " said the rector.
"Amen, sir," replied the sergeant. " I expect to drink the King's health to-night with a lighter heart than I have these many months past." And with these words he rode off.
In the mean time, all was bustle and activity in the royal army. Tresham and Trelawney were both summoned early in the morning to a general meeting of officers, in Prince Rupert's tent, where the plan arranged was laid before them. The King, who had been against immediate battle, was there, and in extraordinary spirits, -- a circumstance so unusual with him that several of the bystanders drew thence an unhappy omen for the day's success: the belief of the times being general, that such an unnatural and exuberant flow of spirits was a presage of impend ing death or misfortune; much as the Scotch at the present day call the man who exhibits them " fey/' and consider the presage as most certain.
However, when the party issued forth, all other thoughts were lost in the beauty and excitement of the spectacle. The army was mustered on a rising ground? about a mile south of Harborough. There was not a cloud to speck the clear blue sky; and a light breeze from the south-west rendered the air cool and fresh. Here and there, where the ground broke away, and afforded a peep into the blue distance, a village spire might be seen; and the tower of Market Harborough was distinctly visible on the left. At the lower part of the rise, the army was drawn up in three divisions; the central body, commanded by Lord Ashley, consisted of about 1500 foot; the gright was commanded by Prince Rupert, and contained 2000 horse; the left was made up of all the northern and Newark horse, which however did not amount to 1600, and was led by Sir Marmaduke Langdale. At the very summit of the hill was posted the reserve: it consisted of the royal life-guards, Prince Rupert's regiment of foot, and the Earl of Lichfield's horse, in all about 1300. By an old blasted oak (long after called the King's Oak) stood a small group, consisting of the King and the principal officers, and at a short distance from them, the great standard of England floated idly in the summer breeze.
"And now, gentlemen," said the King, " to your posts. If the enemy does not advance to meet us, we must look for him. But, nephew, above all things, we charge you, no rashness. Colonel Tresham, we shall desire your company: it may be we may have that which will employ you. The rest know where to bestow themselves."
Colonel Tresham was accordingly left, nearly alone, with King Charles, who from time to time put some indifferent questions to him. At last, as it grew towards nine o'clock, he said--
"Think you it not somewhat strange, Colonel Tresham, that we have heard no tidings of the rebels?"
"So please your Majesty, the scout-master might be sent forward to make his report; and we might then have sure advice by which to advance."
Order was accordingly given; and a long and inactive half-hour succeeded, during which the King seemed to grow more and more depressed. At last he said--
"I would fain hope better things, Tresham, for my country's sake: for my own, I would not care if it were so: but I cannot shake off the presentiment that this is the last time I shall ever see so gallant a host under my banner."
"Your Majesty must not give way to such gloomy thoughts: GOD has blessed the good cause in a marvellous manner during the whole of this campaign; and I will not believe He is about to desert it now?"
"And yet," replied the King, "is there not something almost prophetic in the gloom which often oppresses us without any assignable reason? Did you ever chance to hear that which befel me and Lord Falkland of a like kind?"
Herbert answered in the negative.
"We were in the Bodleian library at Oxford, and I was much in the mood which now holds me. Seeing^a Virgil lie open on the table, I bethought me--GOD forgive me for so tampering with futurity!--of consulting the Vir-gilian lots; and wot you the passage on which I lighted?
--------'Jacet ingens litore truncus
Avulsumque humeris caput, et sine nomine corpus.'"
"It was certainly a singular sentence," remarked Herbert; " but it were more fitting that your Majesty should look on it as one of those singular coincidences, which to attempt to explain were useless, and which perhaps are permitted to try our faith."
"So said the Lord Falkland then; and to comfort me he tried his own fortune."
"And how," said Herbert, "did it fall out?"
"He opened," replied the King, "on the words--
'Heu miserande puer! si qua fata aspera rumpas,
Tu Marcellus eris!'
How that prediction was fulfilled in him, you have seen; how the other may be fulfilled in me, GOD only knows."
"Does not your Majesty," asked Tresham, "think that there may be something like a tempting GOD in so prying into what He would have hidden?"
"Laud thought not so," answered Charles; "and I have ever been a noter of such things. It was taken of many as strange, that he should have attained his mastership of S. John's, on the day of the Decollation of S. John Baptist; and it was thought to be a foreshadowing of that fate which afterwards befel him. It was noted too, that at our proclamation the herald, instead of 'the rightful and indubitable,' did term us 'the rightful and dubitable heir.' And again, at our coronation, the Bishop of Carlisle did take for his text, 'Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the Crown of life;' which was fitter for a funeral sermon. And what befel our standard when it was set up at Nottingham all England hath heard."
"I have heard my father say," replied Tresham, "that however we may sometimes, after the event hath come to pass, trace out the foreshadowings thus, dangerous it is to dwell on them aforehand. For perchance our belief in them may help to fulfil them. Besides," he added, smiling, " I, too, have an omen, and that a happier one, for your Majesty. The prince's chaplain did, as was his wont, read Prayers this morning to the regiment; and the psalm for the day was that which beginneth, 'Give the King thy judgments, O God! and thy righteousness unto the King's Son.'"
"It was so," said Charles; " I did myself note it. But, one way or the other, to-day must decide our hopes; and it is a solemn thing to await the coming on of such a crisis, and to know what mighty events may depend upon it."
"GOD grant," said Herbert, " that it may so end, as that all things may turn to the good old course."
"No, Tresham," answered the King; " were I to obtain the greatest victory ever won by prince, things would nevertheless not return to the good old course. The old and kindly feelings, the heartiness and affection-ateness and reverence of my people are gone, for this generation at least; we shall never see England what it has been, whatever our sons may do. It is as when a child hath been thrown into wicked training: he may perchance escape from real harm, but he shall not be the same innocent child that he was. You may handle a flower without hurting it, but its bloom and its Jreshness will go. And so they have heard their Church defiled with evil reports, her holiest things profaned, the names of her Bishops cast out as evil: how shall they look on these things as they did aforetime?"
At this moment the scout-master returned with the information that he had been four or five miles forward and could hear or see nothing of the enemy, and that Prince Rupert had thereupon drawn out a party of horse and musketeers, and advanced.
"Will your Majesty give the word to advance," asked Herbert, "and support the Prince?"
"Not so," said the King; "we will not willingly be drawn from our vantage ground. Our orders were strict to the Prince, and he will surely venture no nearer than he may come off with honour."
About twenty minutes more elapsed; the report became general in the army that the enemy had retired; and the soldiers fretted at that which would, could they have foreseen all, proved their greatest happiness. At the end of that time, however, a messenger galloped up from Prince Rupert, with the news that the enemy were advancing, and a request that the army should march up to him, and that, above all, they should make haste.
"Now then, Tresham, give the word," said the King. It was done; and then it was Lord Ashley uttered that noble prayer, which, as a practical example of acting on the apostolic injunction, "Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit," is, and probably ever will be, unsurpassed;--"O LORD, Thou knowest how busy I must be to-day; if I forget Thee, do not Thou forget me!--March on, boys!"
It was a gay and a gallant sight, that last hour that Charles acted as King of England. The men were in excellent spirits: the ground slightly undulating displayed their force to the greatest advantage, and as Tresham rode by the side of the King, the latter twice or thrice expressed his confidence in his troops, and seemed to gain fresh courage as he approached the scene of action. After marching about a mile and a half, the enemy was distinctly seen drawn up on Naseby heights: having both the advantage of the ground and time, from the view their situation gave them of the royal army, to dispose themselves as they thought fittest to receive its attack. When the main body was yet nearly half a mile behind him, Rupert, who could never fear the sight of an enemy, advanced up the hill. The King saw his motion, and said, in great agitation, "Tresham, that hare-brained youth has ruined us by his impatience. Was ever such madness!"
"There is now no help for it," said Tresham, "but to support him as quickly as possible."
The word was accordingly given to advance in double quick time; and this speed was soon accelerated to complete running.
It was about ten minutes past ten o'clock when the three divisions of the royal army came upon the hill.
The numbers were nearly equal on both sides: the rebels being rather inferior; they had, however, slightly the advantage of the sun; in all other respects their chance was the better. They, too, were drawn up in three divisions: the centre commanded by Fairfax, the right wing by Cromwell, the left by Ireton: they were cool, admirably posted, and collected. The royalists advanced out of breath, heated, up a steep hill, without choice of ground, before their cannon could be placed, and having nothing to rely upon but their courage. Their word was, "GOD and the King!" The rebels chose, "GOD is with us!" Thus the stake was thrown which was to decide the fate of England.
Sergeant Fletcher had taken up his position ton a little hillock, close by the Pitsford-lane, which commands a perfect view of the whole field. Here he tethered his horse, and resolved to await the issue. His heart, as he was wont afterwards to describe it, came into his mouth, when he saw the irregular and hurried advance of the royalists, and the cool and steady bearing of their opponents; yet his hopes revived as he noticed the gallant manner in which Prince Rupert and Prince Maurice charged up the hill. Everything went down before them; and he saw six pieces of cannon in their hands almost without a struggle. Then his interest was wound up to the highest pitch for Lord Ashley, who was also advancing, though with great difficulty, up a steeper part. The enemies' cannon was so badly pointed, that it completely overshot them, and so did the musqueteers; when within carabine shot, they fired one volley, and then fell in with their swords and the butt-ends of their muskets; and after a struggle of about a quarter of an hour were in possession of the brow. Fletcher now thought the victory safe; and mounting his horse, rode back at full speed to report the good tidings.
It had been a morning of intense excitement at Scald-well: the inhabitants, quite unable to pursue their ordinary employments, collected in the village street, to express their hopes and fears, to tell old stories of former battles, or debate the chances of this. Several of the men strolled out westward; some mounted the church-tower, where, however, all that met their view was a long dark stationary line on the summit of Naseby heights. This every one knew must be the parliamentary army; but why the other had not advanced was a difficulty which no one could solve,--as its eagerness for fighting was well known, and the result of the council had been heard by all. Mr. Tresham was inclined to think that a second determination must have been taken; and was almost disposed to hope that such might be the case. By degrees, the interest was too much wound up to allow of words, and the observations interchanged became briefer and briefer. Mr. Tresham, with Agatha and Rose, went several times into the village during the early part of the morning, without being able to discover anything. At length, as for the fourth time they entered the churchyard, about half-past ten, one of those on the tower asserted his belief that the troops were moving; and a moment afterwards the dull distant sound of a heavy cannonade was heard.
"It is begun! they are at it!" cried two or three voices at once; and then a short pause of listening ensued, followed by a faint and irregular discharge of musketry.
"My friends," said Mr. Tresham, "we neither advantage ourselves nor the King by this excitement; there is a way by which we may help both. You, who are willing to try it, follow me into the church."
As soon as it was known that prayers were about to be offered up for the good success of the King, the whole village flocked together; and never had that holy Temple been so filled in the time of the Church's glory, as it was now at the hour of her deepest abasement. Mr. Tresham, kneeling down, as was then the reverent usage, in the midst of the Chancel, began the Litany; and truly and heartily did the congregation join in every response. And when he came to the petition, "That it may please Thee to be his defender and keeper, giving him the victory over all his enemies," Mr. Tresham felt that though the weapons of his warfare were not carnal, they might, nevertheless,--in the unseen might of prayer,--be more effectual for the Royal Cause than the arm of flesh, in which it was too much given to trust. And comforting indeed did he find the Collect: "Save and deliver us, we humbly beseech Thee, from the hands of our enemies; abate their pride, assuage their malice, and confound their devices; that we, being armed with Thy defence, may be preserved evermore from all perils, to glorify Thee, Who art the only Giver of all victory." And as he pronounced the final blessing, he felt that even in the midst of outward war, the Peace of GOD might be, and was present with them.
When the congregation again repaired to the churchyard, the cloudiness of the western sky, and the sulphureous smell which every breeze brought with it, proved how hot had been the conflict. Everything on the hill was entirely hidden by the smoke; with the exception of the roar of a single cannon at intervals, not a sound was to be heard; and not a sign was there of the fate of the day. At length, after an hour of miserable suspense, the quick galloping of a horse was heard on the Brixworth road, and in a moment Sergeant Fletcher rode up, waving his hat, and showing every sign of joy. In a few words, he told them of the complete defeat of the rebels; and explained all he had seen. "I marvel," he added, "that none of them passed through the village; for Prince Rupert gave them a hot chase this way."
All was joy and exultation; the churchwardens and the rector shook hands; some were for a merry peal of bells; but this was opposed by the more prudent part, on the ground that there might be straggling bands about, whom it would be safer not to exasperate. Fletcher, having disburdened himself of his news, rode off again; and in the course of half an hour, two or three wounded royalists were brought into the village, who confirmed the tidings of this great victory.
Sergeant Fletcher rode on towards Naseby; and could not help feeling somewhat astonished at finding the hill, which he left in possession of the royalists, entirely deserted; he could not comprehend what had become of the main body, nor why the royal standard was not anywhere to be seen. As he rode over the field, its southern part was strewn thickly with the dead and the dying of the rebel side; but on the north, the scene was changed, --hundreds of cavaliers lay dead on the ascent of the hill; and what most of all surprised him was, that the loss among Cromwell's barbed horse had been so very small; the known courage of the Ironsides rendering him certain that they would have made the most desperate resistance before yielding the post. Still it was not till he heard the sound of firing further to the west, that a glimpse of the real truth flashed upon him. "It is impossible," was his first thought; but his second reminded him that the victory had been considered certain at Marston Moor; and his third suggested that he had been too hasty in not waiting the result of Sir Marmaduke Langdale's attack.
His fears soon received a sad confirmation from some of the wounded royalists: from these he learnt that Cromwell's seven bodies of foot had proved an overmatch for Sir Marmaduke Langdale's five; that Prince Rupert, with his characteristic impetuosity, had suffered himself to be hurried so far from the scene of action, in pursuit of the enemy's left wing, as to be unable to give any assistance; and the report went, that the treachery and cowardice of the Earl of Cairnwath had prevented the King from advancing with the reserve. The full loss sustained in that most fatal battle he did not know till afterwards; but the information he received was more than sufficient to cause him to ride sadly and slowly homeward.
News of the truth had, however, reached Scaldwell before his arrival. Agatha was sitting alone, her father and sister being in the village, when Colonel Tresham burst in, and in a few brief words gave her to understand the whole extent of the misfortune. "It is, humanly speaking," he said, "impossible that the Royal Cause can ever hold up its head again. We may, and please GOD we will, give the rebels some further trouble yet; but Cromwell and Fairfax are as sure of their aims, as if they were now issuing their orders from Whitehall."
"And what, my dearest Herbert, do you intend to do? Not, I hope, to linger here, where they will be sure to hunt for you?"
"His Majesty's business requires that I should remain some time in these parts," her brother replied, "in order to see if any of the stragglers can be got together again. I shall get such quarters as I may at Kettering. Trelawney will be with me: and if you should wish to communicate with me, you may leave any message with Mistress Ditford, at the sign of the Bible (it used to be the Bible and Crown), in the market-place. You may fully trust her: she is the widow of one of our army chaplains, and is much in the confidence of several that are high in authority. And perhaps it will be better not to mention to my father that you have seen me, or know anything of my movements; he will have enough, I fear, to answer for, without being burdened with an unnecessary secret."
"I will do as you wish me," said Agatha. "Now go, and GOD bless you! You shall assuredly hear tidings of us--GOD send they be good ones!"
In a few minutes Herbert was spurring his weary horse towards Kettering, and Agatha walked out to meet her father. What a sad meeting it was, it is easy to conceive. They who had parted but an hour before with the highest and brightest hopes, now met with the knowledge that they must never be again entertained. Then it was that the faith of Mr. Tresham shone forth beautifully. It had not been his wont to dwell on frames and feelings, a well knowing how little trust can be placed in them He had always discouraged the habit of speaking of that on which the Puritans loved so much to dwell--personal experience: but now he showed that in an habitual, calm, earnest trust that all would finally be ordered best for the Church, and for himself, as a part of it, he yielded to none. Still it was a melancholy evening; and, as the light faded away, and the summer twilight crept over the garden, sad was the contrast between this and the Saturday evenings of by-gone years. Agatha, indeed, had one comfort beyond the rest. She knew of the safety of Herbert; but she also knew him to be in a post of danger, and sighed, when she recollected the teachery of many who had been considered firm royalists. Late in the evening came news that the King was safe, and retreating towards Lichfield, but that all his papers and two jewels were in the possession of the enemy; and that two hundred women, wives of royalist officers and soldiers, had been butchered in cold blood after the battle, by the rebels.
Short and broken was the sleep of the rector and his family that night; they knew not at what moment to expect a visit from some parliamentary regiment, and how soon a committee of inquiry might sit on Mr. Tresham. But the night passed over, and the Sunday morning broke as beautifully as ever on the village.
"This was he whom we had some time in derision, and a proverb of reproach; how is he numbered with the children of GOD, and his lot is among the Saints!"--Wisdom v. 35.
IT is no new remark, that never are the prayers of our Church so beautiful, and never is her influence felt to be so soothing, as when we are in deep and hopeless affliction. Probably not one of those who went up to join in that service on the morning succeeding the battle, but found a quieting and supporting influence, which he had never known before. The sermon was short, but to the point; the text was that verse, "O tarry thou the LORD'S leisure, be strong, and He shall comfort thy heart, and put thou thy trust in the LORD." The Holy Communion was over, and the congregation were dispersing? when three officers rode up to the church, and inquired for Master Tresham. The clergyman came out to meet them, and was immediately required to appear before the committee, named in a paper put into his hands, at two o'clock that afternoon, to answer such charges as should then and there be brought forward against him. "And you, who have a mind to be fed with the sincere milk of the Gospel, not with the prelatical trumperies of Antichrist," said one of them, who appeared a minister addressing the people, who were watching the result of the summons, "gather together in this place this evening, for I am disposed myself to break the bread of life to you."
"May I ask your name, sir?" said Mr. Tresham, to him who seemed the leader of the party.
"My name is Richard White," said the other, "a poor labourer in the blessed work of reformation, and chairman of the committee for the ejection of scandalous ministers."
"I trust, then, Master White, if you be indeed he, that I shall have fair play. Of the six men whose names I see marked down as my jury, three I know nought of; and the other three are notorious and old breakers of the laws, both of GOD and man. Two, to my certain knowledge, have been, ere this, in Northampton gaol; and, as to Master Nynd, of better rank though he be than the rest, his character is well known here, and I think his testimony would weigh little with any honest man. Besides, none of these men have ever been churchgoers, so that it is impossible for them to judge of my doctrine."
"What then?" said White. "Grant they have been sinners--so was Paul--so was David--so was Mary Magdalene. The greatest sinner makes the greatest saint."
"Touching Mary Magdalene," said the minister, "Master Calvin holdeth somewhat differently from your honour. For in his commentary on that passage he saith------"
"Well, Master Adkyns, it mattereth little what he saith: I mean, I will hear it some other opportunity; and now, Master Tresham, if you would fare well at our hands, you will give as little trouble to us as possible, and rather throw yourself on our mercy, than obstinately persist in and defend those your popish errors; and so farewell."
"I will go with you, sir," said Farmer Downton; "if my testimony is worth anything, it shall not be wanting."
"Not so, my good friend," answered the rector; "that could not benefit me, and might much endanger you."
"Do you think, sir, that we shall let you go before these men alone? They cannot hurt me, I think: and I care not if they can. And if the young ladies, meanwhile, will come down to my farm--a poor house it is, but an honest one--and that is more than Lawyer Nynd could say; all I and my wife have shall be at their service; and they may be guests till this matter is settled."
"Well, my good friend, we will take your offer, as kindly as it is meant. Come, Agatha; come, Rose; we will walk down together to Farmer Downton's; and there I will leave you."
"But, my dearest father," said Rose, "do tell us what is the worst we may expect."
"That I shall be deprived," said Mr. Tresham. "Further, I think, they dare not venture, and less we must not expect. And that is no strange trial, nowadays," he added; "so that, literally and truly, we may remember S. Peter's words, and bless GOD it is no worse."
Having left his daughters in safety at the old farmhouse, the beau-ideal of an English yeoman's abode, the clergyman and churchwarden then bent their way to the appointed place.
Nynd, a man of very low degree, had been a pettifogging attorney at Kettering; but having lost his character by repeated acts of dishonesty, by which, however, he had acquired a small fortune, he built himself a house in Scaldwell, and had endeavoured to ingratiate himself with Mr. Tresham, for the purpose of securing the fortune, which was not inconsiderable, of Agatha. Having, however, met with a decided refusal from her, in revenge he turned Puritan, and was a man of considerable importance to that party in Northamptonshire. His very looks showed his character: hypocrisy was stamped in his face; and his own party acknowledged that he was a most dangerous man to offend. It was he who had been the principal instrument of obtaining a commission to inquire into Mr. Tresham's proceedings, and he had drawn up the articles.
In this man's parlour was the committee assembled. White was sitting at the end of a long table, Nynd on his right hand, and the other men were in order on each side. A chair was left for the clergyman at the bottom; several of the parishioners were standing in various parts of the room, and many more clustering round the door. As Mr. Tresham entered, he was comforted by hearing the heart-felt prayers of some of these poor people: "GOD bless you, sir! GOD preserve you!" On taking his seat, he requested to know the reason why, especially on that holy day, he had been summoned; and under what authority his summoners acted.
"Read the commission, Master Nynd," said White. Nynd obeyed, as follows:--
"Die Veneris, 6to Jun. 1645. Whereas Herbert Tresham, Clerk, Rector of the parish church of Scaldwell, in the county of Northamptonshire, hath in his sermons, and otherwise, depressed great malignity and opposition against the parliament, and the power and proceedings thereof: affirming that the parliament would force the King to comply with those laws that they made; and that they raise a force against the King; and that they are not to be obeyed; and advised not to send them money, plate, or horses; and hath also been guilty of divers popish and superstitious practices, hereinunder written: which the Lords and Commons taking into consideration, for the better supply of an able and godly man in the said church, and for the promotion of the maintenance of those that shall officiate therein, do constitute and ordain that Richard White, Richard Nynd, Emmanuel Stark, Peter Chaubley, John Rushby, Edward Hyatt, shall have, or any three of them shall have, power and authority, and are hereby required to examine into and touching these things; and in case they shall so appear, to sequester the parsonage-house, and all the tithes, rents, and profits whatsoever, of the said church, and to appoint collectors for the gathering and receiving of them, as they in their discretion shall think fit; and shall have power to pay the same unto Robert Adkyns, a godly and orthodox divine, who shall be appointed and requested to preach every Lord's day, and to officiate as parson, and to take care for the discharge of the cure of the said place, in all the duties thereof, until further orders shall be taken by both houses of parliament."
The articles against him were as follows:
"1. Imprimis: That he useth the Common Prayer.
"2. That he boweth at the name of JESUS.
"3. That he preacheth for the standing up at the Gloria Patri.
"4. That he useth the sign of the Cross in Baptism, and the ring in marriage.
"You have heard, Master Tresham," said White, "both of what you are accused, and by whom you are judged, and by what authority they act. Now, forasmuch as we are willing to use all gentleness towards you, we are willing to hear your defence, if you have any, at length. And we would have you further to know, and you, good people, will take note, that though we thus use the Sabbath on this occasion, being thereto compelled by necessity, yet we deem it no precedent for others, who should rather, by frequenting of godly preachers, seek to edify their souls, than to follow their ordinary business and vocation. And now, Master Tresham, we would fain hear what reply you make to the first charge against you, namely, that you have used the Prayer-book ever since it was by act of parliament abolished."
"In the first place," said the clergyman, "I utterly protest against and repudiate your authority, as proceeding from a body who hath no right to give it. Nevertheless, sith something you have there said having truth, albeit intermingled with great errors, I am willing to say that which I can to clear myself in the sight of all honest men. Wherefore, I demand, why I should not use the Prayer-book?"
"Because Parliament hath appointed in its stead a directory of prayers, and that with good and just reasons."
"Which be they?" asked the other.
"The old form," answered White, "is full of popish errors, and doth appoint horrid blasphemies and lying fables to be read to the people, instead of GOD'S word; and hath caused the Church of England to groan under the abominations of the Church of Rome from its infancy upwards."
"I have been forty years a Priest," said Mr. Tresham, "and yet I never heard blasphemies or fables."
"What!" said Nynd, "say you so? On the fourth of October, in the forenoon, it appointeth a horrible blasphemy to be read for the first lesson, out of the 12th of Tobit, and the ninth verse: where it is written, 'That alms do save from death, and purge away all sin;' which is a main ground of popery."
"Right well said," observed Adkyns, the minister, who was expecting the presentation to Scaldwell; " it is indeed an horrible blasphemy: and he 'that hath uttered such can hardly, methinks, be accounted worthy to be a labourer in GOD'S vineyard, even as it is written, (Let his habitation be void, and his bishopric let another man take.'"
"Then again," said White, "fearful is it to hear how the interrupting of the minister by the clerk and the whole congregation breedeth uproar and confusion, such as doth much offend GOD; so that many cannot come to church till the service be all read."
"But, Master White," said the rector.
"Hold thy tongue, friend," answered White; "I promise thee, it will be the worse for thee else. I do not sit here to learn, but to examine. And, as I was saying, the people ought to be silent till the minister hath done, and then to say, Amen: and not to break in by responds."
"Master White saith well," remarked Chaubley, a man who had been twice in Northampton gaol on charges of peculation; "when the minister prayeth for the King (he were better, methinks, to pray for the parliament), saying, 'O LORD, save the King,' they interrupt him by mingling their prayers with his, and saying, 'And mercifully hear us when we call upon Thee.' He being thus put out, doth straightway pray for all ministers, and they interrupt him again to pray for the people."
"Also," said Rushby, "when they read the 50th Psalm, they are like unto women scolding and rating at one another. The clerk and people do begin to accuse the minister, saying, 'When thou sawest a thief, thou consentest unto him, and hast been partaker with the adulterers:' then the priest accuseth the clerk, 'Thou hast let thy mouth speak wickedness, and with thy tongue thou hast set forth deceit:' then they set upon the minister again, and cry out with one voice, 'Thou satest and spakest against thy brother, and hast slandered thine own mother's son.'"
"Master Rushby," said Adkyns, "it is not well done to speak of priests, a name which belongeth unto all Christian men and women, as well as unto ministers; as is it written, 'He hath made us kings and priests.'"
"A most gross misquotation," said Mr. Tresham: "S. John there speaketh------ "
"Wilt thou never cease thy babbling, friend?" said White; "I tell thee, thy Church, as thou callest it, is a suburb of Babylon, and thou shouldest be thankful to hear these godly professors warn thee to come out of it. Yet worse things be there than such: as in the churching of women, where the clerk saith to the minister, 'Which putteth her trust in Thee;' then the minister will not have her put her trust in him, but turneth her over to the clerk, and bids him be to her a strong tower; and the clerk answereth and sheweth wherein, saying, 'from the face of her enemy.'"
"I marvel," interrupted the rector, " that any man, calling himself a Christian, should dare to falsify and blasphemously to pervert------ "
"Friend," answered Nynd, "thou art not now in thy pulpit, and troublest us. A very strange kind of giving GOD thanks is this, and a trouble to many honest women, who must come with a veil to cover their faces after the Jewish manner, as though they were ceremonially unclean."
"Yea, but worst of all," said Adkyns, "is the service for Baptism, which contained! interrogations to infants that have no understanding, 'whether they do forsake the devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world,' and the rest."
"And, above all," said Chaubley, "is that to be of good Protestants abhorred, where the clergyman doth sign the child's forehead with the sign of the Cross, which is indeed the very mark of the beast."
"And again it saith," remarked White, "that GOD hath sanctified the river Jordan, and all other waters, to the mystical washing away of sin."
"Yea but, Master White, what thinketh your honour of that in the Catechism, where it saith, that 'CHRIST died for all mankind;' not for the elect only?"
"Oh, blasphemous and Arminian error!" returned White; "whereas the elect be but few in comparison of the multitude of them that be reprobates!"
"Furthermore," observed Hyatt, "it perverts the meaning of the HOLY GHOST in many places, by putting in and leaving out words, and by calling those places of Scripture epistles which are indeed no epistles, but prophecies."
"And dreadful is it," remarked White, "which is set forth for the Visitation of the Sick. The minister must go to their houses, and salute them, as the Mass Priest doth, saying, 'Peace be to this house, and to all that are in it.' And when he is come to where the sick person is, he must kneel, and read three or four lines of the Litany, and Lord have mercy upon us, and the Lord's Prayer, and five versicles of a line and a half long, and a short prayer, and an exhortation,--and then absolve a sick person from all his sins, and begins the absolution with an untruth, that CHRIST hath left power to His Church, to absolve all sinners that do truly repent and believe in Him."
"The truth is," rejoined Adkyns, "that CHRIST hath not given power to His Church to forgive sins; and no Church doth take it upon itself but the synagogue of Satan, the Church of Rome, and so many of the Lords Bishops and the clergy of England as are popish."
"All which errors," said White, "thou, Master Tresham, hast blasphemously maintained, by persisting to read that book of Antichrist, the Common Prayer."
"And unworthy had I been," said Mr. Tresham, "to eat the bread of the Church, if I did not obey her commands. I was born and bred up in her; she has been to me a most tender and loving mother; GOD has by her hands fed me all my life long; and it shall not be these poor, miserable, thrice-told slanders against her that shall prevent my dying in her Communion. Trampled on her, you have; persecute her sons, you may. You have deprived her of her fair lands and goodly possessions; you have defiled her temples, and hushed her services; yet she, for all that, is the Church, and you are, and can be nought else, schismatics from her, and cut off from the blessed company of all faithful people."
"I forgive thy railings," said White, "and rejoice that I am counted worthy to be evil-spoken of for CHRIST'S sake. Thou dost but speak now as thou didst not long ago, when thou saidst that to die excommunicate and to perish everlastingly were one and the same thing,--as it is reported to us by credible witnesses."
"Never spake I such words," said the other. "What I said was this, that it is not for man to judge of individual cases; but that I would not, for all this world's wealth, die under sentence of excommunication; and so say I still."
"Touching bowing at the name of JESUS," said Nynd, "hast thou, or hast thou not, done this?"
"I have," said the rector; "and sooner would I be torn in pieces by wild horses, than give up such an old and godly practice; a practice which even your own party do not blame; for even Sir Edward Bering said in the House of Commons, 'I will do bodily reverence to my SAVIOUR, and that upon occasion taken at His saving name, JESUS.'"
"It is true," answered Adkyns, "that Dering said those words, or the like of them; but who is he, that we should call him master? Worthy Master Prynne did long ago, in his tractate, called 'Lame Giles, his haltings,' refute such a practice, and him I would rather incline to follow."
"But now," asked Nynd, "what say you to the accusation about the Altar? You have moved it to the east end, where it never ought to be, and have called that an Altar, which is indeed but a table."
"Master White," said Mr. Tresham, "divers accusations have you brought against me, not letting me know who they be that accuse me. 'Wherefore, before I make answer to any other, I demand to have them set before me, that I may be able to convict them, if they speak falsely."
"Godly Master Nynd is our witness," answered White, "and we need none other; so that if thou hast aught to object, thou mayest allege it boldly."
"It is a most unheard-of thing," exclaimed the rector, "that the same party should be a witness and a judge. I call upon you, good people, to take note of this; and furthermore to observe, that, the state of things being such as to make it impossible for me to have justice, I will make no further answer."
There was a cry of "Shame!" among some of the bolder standers-by; and White, rising angrily, said, "Who crieth shame? This ungodly man hath confessed that he hath nothing to reply; wherefore, we will proceed to pass sentence on him."
"Stop, Master White," said the churchwarden; "here have I an attestation, signed by fifty, the most respectable householders in the parish, touching the character of Mr. Tresham, which I would crave leave to read."
"Had we not better proceed at once?" said Adkyns, "The day weareth; and there is much else to be done."
"My friend," returned White, "better were it that we should hear it with all fairness. Read on, Mr. Churchwarden, but be not over tedious."
Farmer Downton read as follows:--"These are to testify, that Master Tresham hath about thirty years been very painful in discharging his duty, by preaching and catechising every Sunday; and also, in the great sickness, not forsaken his flock; and hath both himself given, and caused others to give, much charity in that extremity and at other times; and hath lived blameless, and done much good in this parish. This paper," he added, "is signed by fifty names, all men of honest repute."
"We will not hear them," said White. "And now have all men out, that our deliberations be not hindered."
After a consultation of about five minutes, Mr. Tresham was recalled, and informed that, in consideration of his manifold popish errors, and his contumacy to the commissioners, he was utterly deprived of the rectory of Scaldwell, and all rents, dues, profits, and revenues, thereunto belonging; and that the same were given, according to the authority in them vested, by the said commissioners, to Master Robert Adkyns, from that day forward to have and enjoy.
"And forasmuch," said White, "as we have heard much of sundry popish and Arminian books in your possession, we think fit to examine them ourselves, and shall go thither incontinently for that end; and furthermore, we desire your company."
We are too apt, in reviewing the sufferings of the English Church at this period, to lose sight of the lesser miseries to which her true and unflinching sons were exposed. Many a time was the scene we are going to describe acted over; and yet how little do we admire the courage and fidelity of those who bore all rather than flinch from their duty! All the acts of Christian heroism and patient continuance in well-doing then displayed will never be known till the end of all things; and yet, from the records of the times, we may form some idea of what they must have been. The many happy family circles dispersed, never to be reunited on earth; the barbarity with which everything that family affection held most sacred was displayed to the gaze of the rude and jesting soldiers; the destruction of fondly cherished memorials of the absent or departed; the cruel heartlessness with which things, valueless in themselves, but hallowed by recollections and associations, were given up to wanton destruction--light store do we set by all these things. And what reward had those who suffered them in their generation? " Trials of cruel mockings and scourgings; yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonment; they were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented, OF WHOM THE WORLD WAS NOT WORTHY!" If they lived to be restored, it was not till the decline of life, after sixteen years of misery, and then to a Church but the faint shadow of her former self. Some died, slaves in the plantations; some, strangers in a strange land; some, confined in noisome dungeons. And their own miseries were as nothing, compared with those which they whom they held dearest felt. It was a noble triumph of faith, which could see wife and children threatened with starvation and misery, and yet fainted not in its resolution! And what reward have they from us? Many, who call themselves Churchmen, seem to sympathise far more with their blood-thirsty and cruel adversaries, the Puritans: they speak of the purity of their doctrinal views, as if they were to form an exception to the rule, "By their fruits ye shall know them." But it is soothing and cheering to know, that cast out by their contemporaries, and little regarded by us, these holy men have had their reward--and that we may use, in respect to them, the words of one of their number, himself a glorious Confessor for the Church of CHRIST. "Those blessed ones with GOD, that have fought a good fight, kept the faith, finished their course, as they are how regnant in glory with their REDEEMER, so are they honourable amongst the righteous upon earth for ever. They have left a name behind them, so that their praise shall be remembered for evermore. The LORD hath gotten great glory by them, and therefore with renown He will reward them. No Christian will deny or envy them their due: and for myself I say with Nazianzen, it doth me good at heart to see them honoured: I admire, reverence, adore them in their kind; their triumphs and trophies over death and hell, my tongue and pen shall most willingly set out to life, with all the poor skill and faculty I have. Thrice happy reapers of That mighty Boaz, that did so worthily in Ephrata, and were so famous in Bethlehem,--that sowed in tears when you went out weeping, but reap now the fruit of your labours in joy; you have left some gleanings for Ruth to gather after you, to the comfort and cherishing of her poor widowed mother. Thrice happy guests of That Royal Ahasuerus, admitted to eat at His royal table in His palace, to drink the sweet wine of felicity in the cups of immortality, clad in the wedding garments of immutability!" [Montague's Just Invocation]. But to return to our story. The committee of reformers accompanied the rector to the parsonage, and straightway made their way to the library. If Mr. Tresham had ever allowed himself a luxury, it was that of books; and there was in consequence a fine and valuable collection chiefly of the Fathers and of early divinity. Huge folio tomes, with parchment backs as white as snow, and paging of deep red, stood round the lower shelves; some with embossed sides, some with huge brazen clasps; all bearing traces both of diligent study and of careful keeping. S. Chrysostom, and S. Augustine, and S. Gregory, and S. Basil, and a hundred others of those glorious witnesses to, and guardians of Catholic Truth; there were our own divines, Hooker, and Andrewes, and Whitgift, and others, who lived in the days when "there were giants on the earth;" there were also many choice tracts of what was then modern divinity, and some of these were presentation copies, such as Laud's "Answer to Fisher," Pocklington's "Altare Christianum," and Montague's "Appello Caesarem." No wonder then if Mr. Tresham prized his library above any other of his earthly possessions; and still less that his persecutors took a barbarous pleasure in mutilating or defacing his choicest volumes, and throwing the rest into a heap, lest they should be in the way of the new comer. His sermons, the fruit of many a laborious hour during thirty years' ministry, when sermons were not the composition of an evening, but the fruit of a week, in their zeal to prevent the dissemination of error, they burnt or destroyed. In one of the deep old wainscot closets were all the little treasures of Agatha and Rose: this they heartlessly broke open, strewed the precious records of cherished affection therein contained, letters, and memoranda, and keepsakes, over the floor, and commented on them with brutal ridicule and insolence. When they had thoroughly finished their work of devastation, they bade Mr. Tresham to begone, as having no business in a house no longer his own; and he was on the point of obeying, when Nynd, who had been for some minutes absent, returned, and taking White apart, spoke a few words to him in private. The latter then said, "Master Tresham, we are given to understand that you have lately, since the battle, entertained your son, an officer in the army of the man Charles Stuart, and that you know where at present he lies hid. If you will tell us your knowledge of this matter, well; if not, we may, peradventure, resort to such means as we and you should equally dislike."
"Master White," returned the other, "true it is that my son is, or, alas that I should say it was, in his Majesty's service; but where he hath bestowed himself since the battle, as I know not, so, if I did, you would be the last to whom I should impart my knowledge. But, as it is, I have neither seen nor heard tidings of him since the night before the fight."
"I will take your word, Master Tresham," said White, "for in this you speak like an honest man. And I think, Master Nynd, you must be fain to rest satisfied with this matter, and pass to other things."
"I would humbly crave of your honour," returned Nynd, "that Mistress Tresham be summoned; and you may call me fool, if she knoweth not something herein."
"You may call my daughter before you, sirs, if you will," said Mr. Tresham: "but to my knowledge, she can say nothing concerning the matter. However, you must do your pleasure herein.
Mistress Downton had in the mean time been using her best endeavours to keep up the spirits of her guests, but could, unfortunately, think of no other way to accomplish this end than by relating stories of events in the war which had come under her own knowledge. After telling of some clergymen dispossessed of all they had, and ejected from their houses in the dead of winter; of others allowed to linger for months in the Fleet or Marshalsea, unheard and uncondemned, she proceeded to relate an instance of persecution which seemed to have impressed her more deeply than any other.
"Then, again," she continued, "there was good Dr. Sterne, who was right shamefully used of them. My son, now in London, (an honest lad he is, and a comely, though I say it that should not,) did tell me concerning him. He was kept in a ship lying in the Thames, with other gentlemen of good rank, for ten days together, under the deck, more like galley-slaves than free Englishmen: and marry, they were like enough to have been slaves indeed, for all that while some were bargaining with the merchants to sell them to Algiers, or as bad a place. Under the hatches they lay, for there was neither room to sit not stand, to the number of eighty, and were like to have been suffocated; and, to make the matter worse, the captain had all the vent-holes stopped up. It was that terrible hot August, the year before last, and neither water nor fresh air had they for hours together."
"And how did he get out at last?" asked Rose.
"Why," said her informant, "it was thought he would be safer in the Fleet; and when he was being taken there, a bystander had like to have been sent with him, only for saying, 'That he looked like an honest man.' At last they sent him to be with the good Archbishop at his execution, and then he made a shift to get away to the King at Oxford."
These stories served but poorly to satisfy Agatha against the surprise of being summoned before the committee. She was told, in her way thither, by Sergeant Fletcher, the cause of her being sent for; and this gave her a few moments to make up her mind as to the course to be pursued.
When she entered her father's study, that room where the best and pleasantest hours of her life had been spent, sad indeed was the contrast which struck her. It hardly seemed the same room, where, while she sat with her father in the hot mornings of summer, the sun-beams forcing their way with difficulty through the green leaves outside, and the thick glass of the window, deep and narrow, and with mullions of stone, threw a pleasant green quivering light on the old oaken shelves. Then, again, she remembered the delight she had felt, when a child, at seeing the thick red curtains drawn, fresh logs thrown on the fire, and while the howling of the wind was heard round the exposed corner, or its rumbling down the great old chimney, the glee with which her father would push from him his books and papers, and drawing his chair to the fire, would say, "Well, children, and what shall we read to-night?"
Now it was indeed different. The book-shelves were empty; their precious contents scattered over the floor, or thrown into a smouldering fire, which the ruffians had lighted in the middle of the lawn; and several articles of clothing, which she had herself, with Rose's help, manufactured for some of the old people, scattered carelessly here and there. White was indolently lolling back in the easy chair; a cup of canary (for they had helped themselves to the contents of the cellar) was beside him; and was deeply engaged in the perusal of one of the few parliament books which the rector possessed, (he had once entertained thoughts of answering it) Prynne's Quench Coale: three or four other members of the committee were regaling themselves at the table; and Nynd, with the impatience of a fiend, was pacing up and down the room, and waiting the arrival of her, concerning whom it might well be said, that "the hatred with which he hated her was more than the love wherewith he had loved her." Mr. Tresham was calmly awaiting the issue of the inquiry, and watching, from the open window, the arrival of his daughter, and his faithful servant. Bates was standing at a respectful distance, and affectionately observing every motion of his dear master.
At last Agatha entered the room, and at the same moment Mr. Tresham came forward to meet her, and White, laying down the book he was reading, but not moving, said, "Mistress Tresham, our time is precious, and you have much detained us. I have but a brief question to ask of you, and I will pray you to give me a brief answer. Have you, or have you not, seen your called Colonel brother, Herbert Tresham, commonly Tresham, since yesterday morning?"
Mr. Tresham felt the hand, which he had drawn through his own arrr^ tremble: but Agatha made no answer.
"Come, mistress," said Nynd, "tell us all you know herein, and keep us not waiting, like a peevish girl, while you are thinking what answer to give. Come, I say, tell us all you know."
"Master Nynd," returned Agatha, "if one man less than another should desire me to tell all I know, you yourself are that man: as none knows better than yourself."
"Do not," replied White, "bandy words with your father's judges, young woman: but let us hear at once what it is you have to say."
"My dear child," whispered her father, "better it is not to enrage these men further. Tell them at once that you know nought of your brother, and may be they will let you go."
"But, father," returned Agatha, "say so I cannot with truth: for I have both seen him, and know where he is now."
"GOD protect you, then, my poor child," said Mr. Tresham, "for I cannot. At all events, come what may, you must speak the truth, and shame the devil."
"Which is much the same thing as shaming Master White," said Fletcher, who stood by.
"Now then," said White, "I ask you, Mistress Tresham, for the last time, know you, or know you not, where your brother is?"
"I do," said Agatha, in a low but firm voice.
"And where is he, then?"
"Nay," she replied, "that shall you never hear from me; and none else knoweth."
Nynd turned pale with rage. "And pray, mistress, did you never hear that we had certain ways and means to make dumb people speak?" he said.
"I have," said Agatha: "GOD forgive you for speaking of them. Me, however, by GOD'S help, they shall not move: and I think you would hardly dare to try them."
"Now, by my faith, Master Nynd," said the rector, "I will not do your masters bad as they are, the wrong to deem that they will not punish you for this insolence, an it came to their ears."
"O! horrid blasphemy!" said Chankley. "He hath sworn by his faith, when his faith is not his own."
"Say you so? my master," said Mr. Tresham. "I know not what is my own--for you have left me nothing else--if faith be not."
"How can that be," returned the other, "when Scripture saith it is the gift of GOD?"
"Well," replied the rector, "and for that very reason it is my own; for what gives a man a greater right to anything than a free gift?"
"Silence!" vociferated White. "Now Mistress Tresham, will you tell us this matter at once, or must we force the secret from you, by means which might be more profitable than pleasant?"
Agatha's answer was prevented by the entrance of a most unexpected personage, to account for whose appearance we must go back a little in the course of our narrative.
IT was with a glad heart that, after receiving his final instructions from Lenthall, and being especially charged not to lose unnecessary time, Basil set forth on the Friday afternoon which preceded the Sunday whose events we have been narrating. He was mounted on a strong horse, used to long journeys; the little wealth he had amassed, and the few necessaries which he had provided, were in his saddle-bag; and he carried his pistols, loaded, at his holster. After having duly exhibited his pass at the Bishop's-gate, which then stood where Bishopsgate-street Without joins Bishopsgate-street Within, he could not but notice, as he rode along Shore-ditch, the excitement which seemed to prevail among all classes; and he thought that the general presentiment on the part of the parliamentary faction seemed to be one of dread. As he paused on Cricklewood-hill, to breathe his horse, and gazed on the huge tower of S. Paul's, standing out in noble relief against the pale blue of the southern sky, his thoughts dwelt bitterly on the sin and misery into which he had fallen while dwelling in that great city which he was now leaving, perhaps for ever, and he inwardly determined to use his utmost talents and energy to repair the mischief which he had done by advice and example; and by devoting himself to the King's and the Church's cause, to make amends for the assistance he had once given to their adversaries. His lonely journey gave him the greater scope for such reflections: the road appeared almost deserted, and patches of grass were here and there growing in its very centre. The little town of Barnet was as quiet as if it had been stricken with the plague; hardly a soul came to the door of their houses as Basil passed through; and he urged his horse faster over Hadley Heath, meditating more deeply than ever before on the guilt and misery of civil war.
The sun was just setting, and the distant Bedfordshire hills seemed to burn in purple, when Basil caught his first sight of the huge massy tower of S. Alban's Abbey Church; and half an hour more sufficed to conduct him to the gate of the Black Bull, then the principal hostelry in the place.
Master Aminadab Sole, the landlord, who was, to use his own expression, a faithful witness to the truth in these degenerate times, received our traveller with the respect which his appearance demanded; and having ushered him into the long, low, dark, common room, damp from neglect and desertion, left him, to bring the materials for a fire, which the chilliness of an evening in the early part of June rendered not undesirable. Having with some difficulty forced the wet straw and wood into a blaze, he proceeded to enquire, whether his honour would partake of his supper then, or stay till the usual hour--eight o'clock.
"I should prefer waiting," Basil replied; "and in the meantime," he added, "perhaps you could furnish me with some books. I love not to be idle."
"Would not your worship prefer to step down to Stephen's Church, where godly Master Hews is even now exercising? He hath ever some comfortable crumb for a gracious soul. Last evening he was on that of Paul, about the man of sin, which he did expound of that arch-heretic, William Laud. To-night he doth further show wherein the abominations of prelacy do consist, and willeth his hearers to cut it up root and branch."
"By your good leave," returned Tresham, "I will abide where I am, being somewhat tired with my day's ride. But, an you will bring me some books, I shall be bounden to you."
"Such as I have," replied Aminadab, "shall be at your service; but they be rather to the edifying of faith, than such light and wanton books as the Malignants care for--plays and poems, and such-like harlotry. I will go fetch some."
He soon returned with a bundle of tracts and pamphlets; and having promised Basil to summon him when supper should be ready, left him alone. Tresham, who was heartily weary of his own sad thoughts, placed himself on the cushioned seat of the deep bow-window, and began to examine the volumes, all of which bore evident traces of careful and repeated perusal. They were, as might be expected, all of the most malignant stamp, addressed to the worst passions of the people, and violently inflammatory. The first he looked at was called, "The Great Eclipse, or Charles his wain over-clouded; otherwise, Great Charles, our gracious King, eclipsed by the destructive persuasions of his queen, by the pernicious aspects of his cabinet council, and by the subtil insinuations of the Popish Faction, Priests, Jesuits, and others. As also from the firing of towns, the shedding of innocent blood, and the lives of his subjects." It was embellished with a frontispiece, representing the King reposing on an easy chair, and at his leisure maiming and mutilating five or six prisoners, while a house was burning near him. The motto was, "The subjects' blood, with fire and sword, cries, Vengeance! Lord." Then, again, there was a tract, called, "A Catalogue of remarkable mercies conferred upon the seven associated counties.-- Printed by command of Edward, Earl of Manchester, and appointed to be published in the several parish churches of the forenamed counties." There was also, "The Parliament's Calendar of Black Saints." "The relation of a combustion in S. Anne's Church, Aid ersgate, between a Jesuit and a preacher." "The two godly Petitions of the county of Buckingham." "Articles of Impeachment against Bishop Wren." "The Papists' Bloody Massacre." "The Archbishop's cruelty to Mr. Edw. Rood, of Abingdon." "The 47th number (the last then published) of the Parliamentary Newspaper, called, The Scottish Dove sent out." "Newes from Scotland, or the Beast is wounded." At last, seeing a small tract, called, "Rome's ABC," embellished with a portrait of Laud, he took it up. I will make a few extracts from it, by way of showing the inhumanity and brutality with which the conscientious Puritans persecuted the aged Archbishop, when he was ill, alone, unprotected, imprisoned, and within a few weeks of his execution.
"We desire your Lordship now at length to grow humble; but what need we petition that, insomuch as long since we knew you were so, or what was the meaning of your lowly bowing? Next, we petition your honour upon Sabbath-days not to walk abroad too much; the zeal which you owe to Lambeth Church be sure to pay it to the Tower Chapel. Next, have a care of your lawn sleeves, lest unawares they chance for to choke you. Next, we desire your honour not to be forgetful of your mortality, which we think you should not,--your chamber having so fair a prospect towards Tower Hill."
"I could not have believed," said Basil, as he threw down the book, "that any man professing Christianity would so brutally have trampled over a fallen enemy, let him be never so worthy of hatred."
By this time the landlord made his appearance to announce supper; and Basil, on taking his place at the table, found it occupied by his host's family, and by the minister who had just been lecturing at S. Stephen's, Lewis Hews. He was then looking out for some desirable piece of preferment, which he considered himself nobly to have earned by a pamphlet he had some years previously published, under the title of "Certain Grievances," and which, being written in popular language, and with some degree of wit, was said to have produced considerable effect on the minds of many,--though its objections were the thrice-told slanders of Cartwright, Penry, and others, and the arguments not worth the name. From this man, Basil learnt that the county of Hertford was in general disposed to favour the rebels; but that the town of S. Alban's was, as he phrased it, "a very laystall of Prelacy and Profanity. And well might it be," he continued, "when that large house of Rimmon stood in the very midst of it. A right godly work it would be to batter it down, save some small portion, which might be left for the edification of hungry souls; and the proceeds of the rest might be given to the poor, or to painful ministers."
"This he said," thought Basil, "not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief. And hear you nought, my masters," he added aloud, "of a battle towards? Men say, in London, that a few days more will in likelihood let us know somewhat further than we do now of such matters."
"I think," said the preacher, "that there will be no change for this present. Opening my Bible this morning, as is my wont when I would fain gain some glimpse of the future, at random, I did light on the text, 'And the battle passed over to Bethaven.' Wherefore, I opine that so crowning a mercy will not as yet be vouchsafed to us."
Conversation like this concluded the evening; and Basil, on calling for his bill, that nothing might detain him on the morrow, found that his host had ingeniously contrived to cram in every possible item, fair or unfair, and to double charge each. Remonstrance was in vain; for Master Sole would have thought it a mere tempting of Providence to miss so fair an opportunity of fleecing a traveller. This innkeeper, who attended every "exercise" held in S. Alban's, was well known by his unhappy customers to be one of the most shameless cheats in ordinary affairs that ever existed. So true is Walker's account of this party--"their ends, their means, their sayings, their demeanours, were sanctified,--everything but their hearts."
Starting at a very early hour on the following morning, Basil, who was anxious to make the best of his journey, reached Newport Pagnell about mid-day. A knot of countrymen were assembled at the door of the inn where he alighted, and fromyrhem he heard that the King and Fairfax had ere this met. The most contradictory rumours prevailed: some would have it that the King had been slain; others, that Fairfax had been taken prisoner, and would be beheaded as a traitor; others again brought forward old prophecies, pointing out the year 45, as one fatal to England; all, however, agreed that the two armies had met somewhere near Northampton. Basil, in an agony of impatience to know the worst, looked in despair at his horse, who by his long hot journey over the sandy Bedfordshire hills was much fatigued, and with some difficulty persuaded the host to lend him a far inferior beast, which stood in his stables, taking his own in pledge: and with this he pushed on as fast as he might. At Stoke Golding, he heard that "rebellion had bad luck;" and as he advanced northward the rumour became better and better authenticated; nor was it till he reached Wootton, a short distance only from Northampton, that he was led at all to doubt of the accuracy of his information. At the latter town, where he did not arrive till after dusk, he heard the whole truth; and it being impracticable, in the then infested and dangerous state of the roads, to proceed, he took up his quarters in an obscure hostelry, and counted almost every hour as it struck, in his anxiety to learn what fate had befallen Scaldwell and its dear inhabitants.
It was he, then, who on the following afternoon (for the "conscientiousness" of a village blacksmith, who would not replace a shoe which his horse had lost, considerably delayed him) entered the parsonage at the time to which our story has arrived. He heard in the village of the result of the committee, and of the outrages which were being carried on in his father's house; and perhaps it was well for him that he had no time to indulge his feelings on again entering it, nor to reflect how deeply he had sinned, and how bitterly he had suffered, since he last stood within it. Armed with Lenthall's authority, and well known to White, he found little difficulty in clearing the house of its intruders for the present; and then the astonishment and mingled sorrow and joy which followed, when he confessed the crime he had been guilty of, and the anguish he had suffered in consequence, are scarcely to be described. After the first burst of emotion was over, he eagerly enquired what course of action his father intended to pursue. "For," he said, "I am sure that, humanly speaking, the Royal Cause is ruined for the present; and though I may be able to protect you here for a day or two, as soon as the news of my disobeying orders, and hastening to Scaldwell instead of to Naseby, is known, I shall be in more danger than any one else."
"Oh that Herbert were here!" said Agatha. "Would there be no possibility of getting his advice?"
"Where is he? " asked Basil. "If anywhere near, by all means let us send for him."
"At Kettering," replied his sister. "Sergeant Fletcher, I am sure, will ride so far for us. I have the direction. I am sure he will be able to discover him."
While the sergeant was on his errand, which he performed with hearty goad will, Basil received from his father an account of the whole proceedings of the committee, and more especially of Nynd's villainy; and bitterly did he lament that, at the very moment when his connexion with the rebels might have been turned to some good use, the precariousness of his own situation, and the very doubtful tenure on which he held such influence as he had, prevented his taking any notice of the offence.
Sergeant Fletcher executed his commission with as much skill as fidelity; and in little less than two hours after he left the rectory, Herbert Tresham and Colonel Trelawney galloped up to it. Then came all the joy and sorrow of a second meeting; and next a long and earnest consultation followed on the future plans of the family. The two officers were to repair to Oxford on the following day, and were very desirous that Mr. Tresham and his daughters should share their destiny, whatever it was. The rector himself was unwilling to leave the village where he had so long lived, and the flock among whom he had so unremittingly laboured; but he fully saw the danger of remaining, especially in a place where Adkyns, whose character was notoriously bad, was to be put in possession of the rectory. He was also forced to allow that his presence in Scaldwell could be but of little avail; whereas every fresh Royalist who swelled the mass at Oxford, exerted an influence which elsewhere he could not hope to have. While he was wavering, Colonel Trelawney rose and said, "Master Tresham, if you would take a turn with me in the garden this fine evening, I should be much obliged to you."
The two paced up and down the well-trimmed gravel walk for the better part of an hour. Trelawney spoke earnestly to his host of the gloomy prospect that awaited the Church and her true children; he dwelt on his own strong and long-tried affection for Agatha; he pleaded that Mr. Tresham had sanctioned it himself in happier times; he set forth, as delicately as he could, the delight it would give him to have a right to protect the whole family, and to devote what the commissioners might leave of his estate to their use; and finally pleaded so well and so wisely, that, ere they returned to the house, Mr. Tresham had given his consent, provided Agatha's could be won, to their union, as soon as they should have reached Oxford.
Colonel Trelawney then invited Agatha into the garden; and when they again appeared among the family circle, it took no long time to arrange definitively future plans. It was settled that the whole party should, on the following morning, set forth on their journey to Oxford with Basil, whose pass and known character would, they hoped, protect them; and that the two officers, who were too notorious to be able thus to escape detection, should make the best of their way, by bye-roads, and under such disguise as they could best assume, and join them there; and that as soon as possible after they had reached that loyal city, Trelawney's wishes should no longer be delayed.
WE shall now pass over a period of two months: and, in order that we may have a clearer view of the posture in which affairs stood at its expiration, will briefly recapitulate the events which happened within it. The Royal Cause was fast falling; disaster after disaster befel it, and, far from the jars and discontents of its partizans being consolidated by misfortune, fresh heart-burnings and jealousies were continually breaking out. The West, which had hitherto been its stronghold, was every day becoming more and more disloyal; the excesses committed by Sir Richard Grenville and Lord Goring, the association of free bands, under the title of club-men the apathy, and disunion, and selfishness, which generally prevailed, all tended to alienate the affections of the people from their King, and to render them an easier prey to the victorious arms of the Parliament. Then the disastrous battle of Petherton bridge, where, through some mistake, in the night, two Royalist officers attacked each other; the defeat of Goring and Lamport, by Fairfax; the raising the siege of Taunton, the surrender of Bridgewater, the capture of Leicester and Hereford, all convinced men that the long protracted struggle was drawing to an end. The King, by a fatal indecision, instead of showing himself at the head of the troops yet faithful to him, lingered in Wales, losing the precious weeks in vainly endeavouring to raise a fresh army there; and allowing his generals in the West to wrangle about titles, and commissions, and precedency. Yet, depressed as he was, betrayed by his friends, and not knowing where to look for advice, Charles, at the beginning of the month of August, wrote thus to Prince Rupert, and the letter is worthy of a King and a Martyr.
"I confess, that speaking either as to mere soldier or statesman, I must say, there is no probability but of my ruin: but as to a Christian, I must tell you, GOD will not suffer rebels to prosper, nor His cause to be overthrown; and whatsoever personal punishment it shall please Him to inflict upon me, must not make me repine, much less give over this quarrel; which, by the grace of GOD, I am resolved against, whatsoever it cost me; for I know my obligations, both in conscience and honour, to be neither to forsake GOD'S cause, injure my successors, nor abandon my friends. Indeed, I cannot flatter myself with expectation of success, more than this, to end my days with honour and a good conscience--which obliges me to continue my endeavours, as not despairing that GOD may in good time avenge His own cause, though I must avow to all my friends, that he that will stay with me at this time must expect and resolve, either to die for the good cause, or, which is worse, to live as miserable in the maintaining it, as the violence of insulting rebels can make him."
It being evident that the last stake to be thrown for would be the possession of Bristol, both as the second city in the kingdom, and the key of the West, and also as being the only place of importance which still held for the Royalists, both parties turned their attention, at the close of the summer, towards its attack and defence. Among other officers ordered thither were Trelawney and Tresham, after a very brief stay at Oxford. Agatha Trelawney, unwilling to leave her husband in such a service of danger, was yet most reluctant to be separated from her father and sister: and Mr. Tresham, having now no local tie, nor family attachment, consented to accompany his two sons to their new place of sojourn. They were also followed by Basil, whose desertion from the parliamentary side had given occasion to the bitterest expressions of indignation and threats of revenge among his former friends, and who now hoped, by turning to some civil employment, to be able to serve his King zealously and ably. .
It was towards the end of July that our party took up their abode in Bristol. They found everything in active preparation for supporting a long siege: provisions were daily brought into the city, arms and ammunition provided, bullets being cast, and the weak parts of the walls repaired and strengthened. Herbert sought and obtained a private interview with the Prince, to whom he stated the past errors and present desires of Basil; and the latter was at once set over the victualling department, hitherto but ineffectually supplied.
Orders had already been issued, that every family should victual -itself for six months; but, on close enquiry, Basil discovered that out of 2,500 families then remaining in the city, 1,500 were not able to provide any provisions whatever. To remedy this, two thousand bushels of corn were imported from Wales, and numerous herds of cattle were driven in every day from the surrounding country, by parties appointed for that purpose.
Trelawney and Tresham found active employment in superintending the repairs of the works. The line to be defended was more than four miles in circumference, and the available force did not exceed 2000 men. Some difference of opinion at first existed, whether the city should be defended alone, or the possession of the whole of the outworks also maintained: the latter course was at last agreed upon, because it was hoped that if one general attack could be resisted, the enemy would be discouraged, and the lateness of the season prevent another from being attempted. The city walls themselves were of no great extent: the river Frome bounded it on the west and north, the Avon on the south, and a line of fortifications, extending from the Castle Green to the upper part of the Old Market, on the east. But the outworks formed a far larger circumference: containing part of Brandon-hill, S. Michael's-hill, S. James's-square, the whole of the Old Market, and the Temple, and S. Mary Redcliffe. They were defended by five principal works: Prior's-hill Fort, Colston's Fort, the Great or Royal Fort, Brandon-hill Fort, and the Water Fort. The walls were generally about three feet thick, and five in height. The men worked day and night in repairing the decayed parts: there was no time to cut and level the hedges and ditches near, from which the rebels afterwards derived great benefit.
Mr. Tresham, and Agatha and Rose, took up their abode in Corn-street, in a central position; and, as there was often a difficulty in being able to attend the Cathedral, on account of the military operations carrying on along the river, which intervened between it and the city, he asked and obtained leave from Bishop Howell to perform daily service in S. Stephen's Church, which was left by the then rector: and the attendance was very full both morning and afternoon.
Anxious as they were for the success of the defence, and anxiously impatient for the first tidings of the enemy's approach, the evenings which the whole party spent together after the business of the day was over, were yet gilded by a happiness which, since Basil's falling away, had been wanting. The two officers anticipated bright success: they knew well Prince Rupert's courage and military talents, and hoped that his besetting sin, rashness, would be effectually kept under by his present position. Mr. Tresham, of less sanguine temperament, nevertheless thought that the Royal cause would be gaining strength and consistency elsewhere, while the enemy was detained before Bristol: and the sisters, taking their opinions from those they loved best, were not unwilling to make the most of their present domestic happiness, and to let the morrow take thought for the things of itself.
On the twentieth of August it was generally known through the city, that the enemy, under Fairfax and Cromwell, were advancing from the east: that Commissary-General Ireton had taken possession of most of the small towns and villages near the city, and that orders had been sent to Admiral Moulton, then at Milfordhaven, to blockade Bristol by sea. Two days afterwards the first body of the enemy appeared on Pile-hill: and that afternoon the whole party were summoned by the officers for a walk on the Southern Ramparts. Nothing could exceed the beauty of the scene. Far away to the south, the blue hills of Somersetshire slept in the quiet, hazy sunshine; the enemy were distinctly visible on a nearer eminence; to the right, that queen of parish churches, S. Mary Redcliffe, stood out in noble relief; behind, the various towers and spires of the city were grouped together, and, high above all, the Royal Standard floated lazily from the top of the Castle. Here and there a low dray, loaded with cannon balls, was being dragged along the ramparts, and the distant line of the outworks was partially visible on some of the eminences to the right. All the sounds of a busy city were borne along with the breeze; carts, heavily loaded with stone, rumbled through the narrow streets, or a light piece of artillery rattled along, as it was moved to another locality; sometimes the clanking of a small party of horse might be heard; and an occasional laugh or jest sounded along the wall. In the midst of all these preparations for wars, the House of Peace continued as usual, and the Cathedral bells were chiming for evening service.
"How very, very beautiful is all this!" said Agatha, at length. "Oh that its beauty should be what it is!"
"It is a city," replied her husband, "worthy to be that in which a King's last hopes should be fixed. I am sure that it will not disappoint his trust."
"And how long," asked Rose, "do you really expect to be able to make its defence good?"
"For six months, we trust," he replied; "but the Prince hath promised his Majesty to hold it four. And long before that time, I trust, the King will be enabled to raise the siege."
"And where, my dear husband," said Agatha, "would be your post, in case of an attack?"
"It will be," answered he, "in the opposite part of the city, a good mile and a half hence. Prior's-hill Fort. It is not the largest of the forts, but it is one which will probably be the first object of the enemy; and the Prince has much honoured us by appointing us thither."
"How popular he seems to be," remarked Agatha. "The people crowd round to get a sight of him when he comes forth, and appear never to be weary of gazing on him."
"And his demeanour is right gracious to them," said Rose. "I had always heard him called haughty and overbearing; to them, I am sure, he is quite the contrary."
"Haughty enough he can be," said Herbert; "no one more so; but he knows the way to win men's hearts, and is practising it now."
"Look, Charles! look!" exclaimed Agatha, "that gate is being thrown open! What is that body of horse going to do! and what is that trumpet?"
"The Prince hath commanded a sortie this afternoon," her husband replied. " Sir Richard Crane heads it. A right gallant man is he, and I doubt not will dislodge the enemy, safe enough as they think themselves, from yonder hill."
The little body of horse wound under the wall, and Sir Richard, as he passed, bowed low to the party on the ramparts, who returned his salutation.
"He shall sup with us to-night," said Trelawney, as he walked back to their lodgings. "He is a brave man as ever lived, and will have some notable feat to tell us of."
In less than an hour the Royalists were driven back into the city in some confusion; but Sir Richard Crane returned no more: he received his mortal wound in charging up the hill.
On the Sunday morning which followed, the city began to assume the appearance of a beleaguered place. A heavy cannonade was heard from the north all the morning, the great fort, and Prior's-hill Fort, firing continually. So mournful a service Agatha had never before attended. At the moment her father was commencing the Church prayers, her husband and brother were heading a sally from the Prior's sally-port; and never did the petition seem more seasonable--"That it may please Thee to succour, help, and comfort, all that are in danger, necessity, and tribulation,"--than now. On returning home, she had the joy of finding a note from Trelawney, to the effect, that though they had been repulsed by Colonel Ramsborough's brigade, yet he and Herbert were unhurt. Then followed all the alarms of a formed siege. On the Monday, information was received of an intrigue carrying on within the city, to betray it to the Parliament; several suspected persons were seized and imprisoned, and the design thus nipped in the bud. On the Tuesday, a very vigorous sally was made against Colonel Weldon's quarters, at Bedminster: Sir Bernard Ashley, a gallant Royalist, fell in it. On the Thursday, the fort at Portishead was taken; and thus a communication opened with the ships in Kingroad. The Friday was observed by the rebels as a fast, to implore the blessing of Providence on their designs: the exercise of Master Peters and Master Dell was sadly interrupted by a sally which the Prince headed about noon.
It was well known that the enemy was concerting a general storm of the city; and that preparations, though much interrupted by the continual succession of wet weather, were still carrying on vigorously; that cannon baskets were ordered to be filled, ladders making, and seamen and soldiers sent for. On the Thursday, a bridge having been completed across the Avon, and the enemy's quarters thus joined, a flag of truce was sent into the city, which brought a summons to surrender. Fairfax had the impudence to tell Prince Rupert that the surrender would be an act glorious in itself, and joyful to all parties, for the restoring the love of the people and Parliament of England, the truest friends to the King and his family. "But if," he continued, "this be hid from your eyes, and so great, so famous, and so ancient a city, so full of people, be exposed, through your wilfulness in putting us to force the same, to ruin and extremity of war (which yet we shall in that case as much as possible endeavour to prevent), then I appeal to the righteous GOD to judge between you and us, and to requite the wrong; and let all England judge whether to burn its houses, and ruin its cities, and destroy its people, be a good requital from a person of your family, which have had the prayers, tears, money, and blood of this Parliament."
If Fairfax, undoubtedly the most conscientious among the rebels, could write in this strain, we may form some conjecture as to the distortions which the truth received from persons less troubled with scrupulosity, and, therefore, fitter agents for the Parliament.
Prince Rupert returned the following answer, not unwilling to procure some time by negotiation, in order to carry on a yet unfinished work:--
"SIR,--I received yours by the trumpet, and desire to know if you will give me leave to send a message to the King, to know his pleasure therein.
"Sept. 4, 1645."
To this proposition, Fairfax would not consent; the negotiation, however, pended a few days more; and it was not till the evening of Tuesday, the 9th of September, that it was finally broken off, by the Prince's sending an absolute negative to the enemy's last proposals.
As soon as the answer was dispatched, Tresham and his friend repaired to their lodgings, to prepare those dearest to them for the approaching attack.
"Cheer up, my own Agatha," said Trelawney, as he bade her farewell; "this, after all, will be nothing to Naseby; and GOD, who protected us then, will, I nothing doubt, protect us now. Whatever happens, it will be my comfort that you are safe with your father, and your brother: the case might have been different, and then I could not have gone to my post with half so light a heart."
"I can trust you, indeed I can, in GOD'S hands," replied Agatha; "and you too, my dearest Herbert. Only, the moment you are able to send us any news of your safety, I am sure we may depend on having it."
"Rest assured you may," said her husband. "Perhaps the attack may be of no long duration; but at all events, I entreat you earnestly, let what may happen, not to stir from this house till you see or hear from us. You can be nowhere so safe: and it may be important that I should know where at once to find you."
"It is a noble thought, Charles," said Mr. Tresham; "and you must feel it your greatest comfort, that you are fighting on GOD'S side, that GOD'S people are praying for you, that the Church herself blesses you, that all the influence prayer has,--and who can tell how much that is?--is exerted for you; and that if you fall, many a canonized Martyr--I speak it not to disparage those Blessed Saints--hath less a claim to that title than you will have. There, now go; and GOD'S grace and protection be with you both! "
Agatha and Rose exerted themselves to appear calm and composed till the two officers were gone; but then,--and who could blame them for it?--they wept, to quote the beautiful language of Scripture, till they had no more power to weep.
The evening wore away, and a dark still night came on,--far better suited to the wishes of the besiegers than to those of the besieged. Trelawney and Tresham endeavoured to inspirit the men in their little fort: it mounted thirteen guns. They were in high spirits, and made no doubt that the defence would be successful; and the feeling was much the same all round the outworks.
Sir Thomas Fairfax, who had taken up his quarters at an old small farm-house nearly opposite to Prior's Fort, was busied the whole evening in giving his final directions. Two regiments of horse were stationed on Durdham Down, to intercept the Prince's flight, should he attempt to desert his charge; and one occupied the little village of Clifton with a similar design. Minute directions were sent to the officers, the pass-word given out, and then, for an hour or two, all was silence on both sides. Mr. Tresham and his daughters began to hope that their alarm had been premature; the fire, which (for the nights were beginning to grow chilly) they had more than once replenished, grew low; and still there was no sign of any unusual movement. The Cathedral clock at length chimed two; a few seconds afterwards a long pale blaze shot up from the heights of Clifton, and four great guns being fired at the same moment against Prior's-hill Fort, the storm began all round the city in about twenty places at once. The first attack was hottest between Templegate and the Avon,--as nearly as possible where the terminus of the Great Western Railway now stands. In this line of wall, three places were stormed by Colonel Weldon, with his brigade of three regiments. The whole operation was conducted with the utmost skill and courage: at each place were two hundred men in the middle, with two hundred on each side, forlorn hopes, to begin the storm; two ladders, each carried by two men, and attended by two sergeants; twelve files of men with fire-arms and pikes, to follow the ladders; twenty pioneers to throw down the walls when the breach should be made, so as to allow the entrance of the horse; and a small party to turn the guns, when captured, on the city. This attack, however, was unsuccessful: Prince Rupert met it in person,--and who could hope to resist his impetuosity? Lauford's-gate, standing on the Bath road,--the weakest part of the whole line,--was less fortunate; Colonel Montague forced his way into it about three o'clock. The seamen had been ordered by Admiral Moulton to advance by water; but the tide failing, they joined themselves to Colonel Whalley's regiment. The great struggle took place on the line between Colston's Fort and Prior's-hill; just where S. James's-street now stands. In spite of the incessant fire directed by Trelawney and Tresham, with Major Price, against the rebels, the forlorn hope, commanded by Captain Ireton, succeeded in making a breach, after a murderous combat of two hours; and the pioneers having quickly made it practicable, the horse entered with undaunted courage. They were charged by a small body of royalist cavalry, commanded by Colonel Taylor, who had formerly been a member of the House of Commons, and but recently returned to his allegiance. This officer was mortally wounded in the very onset, his men were thrown into confusion, and kept up the character attached to the Royal Cavalry all through the war,--that though they charged with the greatest fury at first, "when once disheartened, they never could be brought to action again; whereas the rebels might be rallied again and again, and advanced as steadily as at the beginning. In the present instance, they quite retreated from the scene, and sheltered themselves under the great fort. Thus a considerable part of the line fell into the hands of the rebels; but Prior's-hill Fort obstinately held out for two hours; the guns became nearly red-hot from continual firing, and the men were ready to faint with their exertion; yet there was not a mention made of surrendering. The Roundheads crept up to the portholes, and plied them with musketry, the fort playing on them fiercely with both great and small shot, till the ladders were brought up. These proving too short, a terrible carnage took place, while two were being fastened together. The Royalists held out with the greatest constancy, knowing that if they could only keep the fort till daylight,--and light was beginning to break in the east,--Colston's Fort would bring its guns to bear on the enemy, which now was impossible, lest the fire should have injured some of the Royalists. Of this the rebels were also aware, and therefore redoubled their efforts; some actually crept in at the portholes, others got to the top of the works. Captain Lagoe, of Colonel Pride's regiment, was the first to seize the colours; and the Royalists then abandoning the upper part ran below, and attempted to barricade themselves on the ground story. This lasted but about five minutes; then the enemy burst in both from above and at the side, and the besieged, finding themselves surrounded by tenfold numbers, threw down their arms, and begged for quarter. No quarter, however, was at first shown; Major Price was butchered in cold blood: and five only, among whom were Trelawney and Tresham, were taken prisoners.
Light broke: the whole of the outworks were in the hands of the rebels: the city was on fire in several places; the soldiery thoroughly disheartened, and every one disposed to forebode evil. For once, Rupert's spirits were broken: and within four hours after the capture of Prior's-hill Fort he demanded a parley.
Trelawney and Tresham had been kept under guard in the same house which formed Fairfax's head-quarters; at about seven in the morning they were informed that he wished to communicate with them, and were accordingly ushered into the room where he sat. He was surrounded by several of the Parliamentary officers, all actively engaged in the business of a very substantial breakfast.
"Gentlemen," he said, rising to meet them as he spoke, "I can only express my hearty sorrow, so far as respects yourselves, for the fate which has thrown you into my power, and my regret that the skill and courage you displayed last night--and I never saw greater skill, or more determined courage--was not exerted in a better cause, than in fighting against the constitution of England, and the liberties of her inhabitants. If you will so far honour me as to partake of my poor fare, I will set forth the reasons which moved me to request your company."
The officers having accepted the invitation, Fairfax proceeded. "Prince Rupert hath agreed to certain articles of capitulation, which will shortly be signed, so that the siege is virtually at an end."
"Of capitulation!" exclaimed Tresham; "impossible! The city is defensible for months, notwithstanding the loss of the outworks; the Prince can never think of surrendering it."
"Such notwithstanding is the case," answered the General; "I will show you the draught of the articles. The Prince to march out with all the honours of war; to have safe convoy to any garrison he shall name within fifty miles of Bristol; the city to be surrendered before one o'clock to-morrow; the prisoners instantly set free, and hostages given on both sides.' You see, gentlemen, there is no cause for doubt."
"It is true," replied Herbert, "that we did not think you would have gained such an advantage on last night. But I would sooner cut off my right hand than sign those articles; and if the Prince does it, I am sure that he will be called to account for it."
"I am sorry that, in that case, I shall be compelled to detain you with me till the whole is formally signed; for right grieved should I be that anything should intervene which might throw difficulties in the way of so Christian a work."
"You will act as you please," replied Trelawney; "but most surely, whenever and wherever, I shall not cease to protest against so infamous a surrender of our best hopes."
Fairfax, whose temper, naturally hasty, was admirably under his control, did not seem distressed, but only observed--
"The ransom of each will be fixed at a thousand crowns, but as it may not be easy for you at once to raise such a sum, I shall feel pleasure in taking your word for it, and releasing you from your present uncomfortable situation. But, at the same time, after the sentiments which you have just expressed, I shall feel it my duty to detain you till the capitulation is actually signed."
The grief with which the King received the news of the surrender of Bristol, a place of such importance for the support of his sinking fortunes, and the odium which Prince Rupert incurred for surrendering a post, that he had promised to maintain for four months, are well known. The rebels, after taking possession of the city, appointed a day of solemn thanksgiving for the success which had been vouchsafed to their arms. The cruelty with which Bishop Howell, a man universally beloved and esteemed, was treated, would alone surpass belief, were it not well attested. His lady was then recovering from her confinement: the rebels uncased the palace of all its lead, so that she was exposed to the weather day and night. He himself was pulled violently out of his palace, which they made into a malt-house, and entertained the idea of erecting a kiln where the High Altar stood. He did not long survive their barbarous usage: but dying of grief, was buried in the south aisle of his own Cathedral. And he has no monument, but a plain black slab, whereon is engraven the single word--EXPERGISCAR.
"The tyrannous and bloody deed is done;
The most arch-piece of cruel massacre
That ere this lower world was guilty of."
T is the melancholy task of the historian, and not ours, to trace the gradual steps, from the defeat at Chester to the dispersion of the last Royalist body under Lord Ashley, which led to the total downfall of the Royal Cause. We will rather pursue the fortunes of the family, whose tale we have been relating, to their close.
It was a gloomy evening, at the beginning of February, 1649 5 daylight had just faded away over Scaldwell, the wind was beginning to rise, and the clouds drifted rapidly over the moon. The church, in its outward appearance, was little altered since we last saw it; but, in the interior, everything, from the demolished Roodscreen and open roof, to the newly erected and cumbrous pews, showed traces of Puritan ravages. The parsonage was fast falling into decay; for Master Adkyns, discontented at not having obtained a better piece of preferment, and fearful of being (as at no very distant period was indeed the case) ejected in his turn, to make way for an independent, would not be at the trouble of bestowing on it the necessary repairs. The whole village seemed to have changed its character; want, and desolation, and filth, had made their appearance where all before was neatness and comfort; the merry open English faces of the former inhabitants had given way to the sour Genevan cast of the precisest Puritanism:
"Still so perverse and opposite,
As if they worshipped GOD for spite."
The labourer no longer went forth to his daily toil, whistling some merry tune, and as cheerful as the lark which was singing above him; but with discontented and melancholy steps, as if it were hard that while so many, not originally his superiors, had, in the late changes, risen to wealth and power, he should still remain in the drudgery to which he was born. The church, formerly almost too small to contain all the worshippers, would now have held double the number that attended. The Directory was hated by all: those who had complained of the length of the Church prayers, found that they gained little in this respect by the adoption of a form of worship, where the heads of prayer alone took up ten closely printed quarto pages; and the commentary on this might, at the discretion of the minister, be expanded to ten times its length. Those who had objected to the repetition in the former prayers, now discovered that repetition of the same words was better than repetition of the same ideas in different terms, and the introduction of the favourite expressions and pet phrases of the officiating minister became ludicrously painful. The occasional offices were vehemently disliked. Sergeant Fletcher observed, that he had never looked on those as honest women who had been married by the Directory (the sergeant only repeated King James's famous declaration at the Hampton Court Conference, that he should hardly think himself well married without the ring); "and as to the burial," he would continue, "it is more like the burial of a dog than a Christian being." And very many agreed with the honest sergeant in these views, though they might not perhaps express them so strongly.
But to return. On the evening we have mentioned, an old man, but apparently more infirm through sorrow than through years, and a lady, who, though still young, wore the deep mourning of a widow, might have been seen entering the churchyard of Scald well. They paused before a low modest headstone, on which were engraven the letters,--"R. T. 1648," and stood beside it for some moments without speaking.
"Dear, dear Rose!" said Agatha Trelawney, at length--for she it was who, with her father, was paying the first visit to her sister's grave; "it is better as it is for both of us. It was a sorer trial even to me to see you pining away day by day, and to be unable to procure you the medicine and necessaries which might perchance have saved your life, than to know that you are now at rest, though it be in 'the land that is very far off.' And for you, oh how incomparably glorious is the change!"
"Glorious indeed!" said Mr. Tresham; "glorious indeed! It has been a merciful stroke--merciful both to her and to us. All our privations we suffered far more for her than we did for ourselves; and she felt them the more, because she saw that we did so. Now she has done with suffering for ever. And what a glorious company of those that have suffered in the same cause are there with her!"
"How unspeakably must those happy spirits pity us!" returned Agatha. "And how graciously is it ordered that we should have so many inducements to set our affections on things above! When my husband fell, it seemed as if I had not a single tie to bind me to earth; and I did not know how strong a band there was, till I watched by the sick bed of my Rose. And now, my dearest father, that you are left alone, and that Herbert and Basil are separated from us, there seems more need than ever that I should be your support and comfort."
"And so you are, my dearest child; without you, this world would be indeed a wilderness to me. But who comes here," he added, as two figures entered the wicket-gate, and approached rapidly.
"I have given you express orders, Master Tresham," said Adkyns, "not to loiter about this place, as I constantly find you doing. You have no longer--and I and the village bless GOD for it--any business here; I only wish you would take yourself off altogether."
"A pleasant time you have chosen for an evening walk, Mistress Trelawney," said his companion, who was none other than Nynd. "You would have been too late another evening; for I have given orders that that stone shall be removed to-morrow: I cannot, as churchwarden, allow such an eyesore to exist."
Agatha burst into tears.
"Stop a moment, Master Tresham," continued Nynd. "Have you heard the news from London? Charles Stuart was made a head shorter last Monday than he was before."
Though somewhat prepared for the possibility of such an occurrence, by the knowledge he had acquired of the proceedings of the High Court of Justice, the news were too much for Mr. Tresham, and he fainted away. Adkyns and Nynd walked off; and had it not been for the timely appearance of Sergeant Fletcher, Agatha's perplexity would have been extreme.
"Don't take on so, my dear young lady; don't take on so," said he, as he carried her father homewards. "Such a shock was enough to upset any one at first; and Mr. Tresham is not very strong; but give him time, and I doubt not he will get over it."
And the sergeant's words were fulfilled; though not till after a long illness. While she watched by the sick-bed of her father, in the miserable cottage, which had been for some time his abode, Agatha's thoughts naturally reverted to the past: for there was too little of promise in the future to induce her to look forward to that. After the capture of Bristol, our party had, with other loyalists, passed into Wales, and finally followed his Majesty to Chester. In the battle near that place, Trelawney was second in command under Sir Marmaduke Langdale, and was shot through the heart at the moment of his leading on his regiment to their first charge. The King showed the respect he bore to that officer by attending his funeral as a mourner, in Chester Cathedral, and paying a visit to Agatha shortly afterwards. When the war was virtually terminated, Colonel Tresham, who could only have been a burden to his father, passed over into Holland, to offer his services to the Prince; and Basil was established in London, as a secret agent for the Royalists. Trelawney's estate having been confiscated by the Rebels, Mr. Tresham and his daughters were reduced to extreme necessity; and having applied for his fifths from the Committee of Plundered Ministers, he obtained, after some expense and great trouble, and a personal appearance in town, an order on Adkyns for their payment. To this order, however, Adkyns paid no attention; and Mr. Tresham, hopeless of procuring justice by another appeal, settled himself in a small cottage in a village where he had all his life resided; and made a shift to support himself by the kindness of friends, some of whom were nearly as poor as himself; and by now and then giving a few lessons to the sons of some neighbouring farmers. The hardships which she had undergone, and the privations to which she was exposed, proved too much for Rose's strength; she gradually sunk under them; and, in the second winter of her return to Scaldwell, was buried by the side of her mother. Mr. Tresham earnestly petitioned that he might be allowed to read the Burial Service over his daughter; and Adkyns consented, on payment of ten pounds. This, however, being a sum totally beyond the utmost efforts of both Mr. Tresham and Sergeant Fletcher to raise, though they offered to make it up in time, permission was refused; and Rose Tresham was committed to the ground without a Christian hope being expressed over her coffin, or a Christian prayer breathed over her tomb.
When Mr. Tresham was sufficiently recovered to be able to bear it, a letter was given him by Agatha, which during his illness had arrived from Basil. It contained a full account of the Martyrdom of King Charles, of which Basil had been an eye-witness; and concluded nearly in the same terms as did that of Sancroft to his father. "The black act is done, which all the world wonders at, and which an age cannot expiate. The waters of the ocean we swim in cannot wash out the spots of that blood, than which none was ever spilt with greater guilt since the SON of GOD poured out His. And now we have nothing left but to importune the GOD to Whom vengeance belongs, that He would show forth Himself:--and speedily account with these prodigious monsters, or else hasten His coming to judgment, and so put an end to these enormous crimes, which no words yet in use can read, or thought conceive, without horror and amazement."
Years rolled on, and brought with them few or no changes worthy of record. Adkyns was displaced to make way for an Independent, Orton; a man, if possible, of more degraded character than his predecessor. Colonel Tresham rose rapidly in dignities in foreign service, and was enabled from time to time to transmit sums of money for his father's use. Basil was concerned in every scheme and plot for the Restoration of the King: but though he never once slept in safety, he remained undiscovered in the very head-quarters of his enemies. Nynd, after a long course of successful villainy, was murdered one night by a servant, for the sake of the money which he had amassed.
The only other particular worthy of record, which happened during the miserable time of the Commonwealth, was an adventure which befel Sergeant Fletcher, shortly after the death of Cromwell. He was riding, at a late hour, one night over Naseby, when, to his astonishment, at the very summit of the Down, he saw the flashes of torches, and heard some snatches of military funeral music. Excessively terrified, he rode back at full speed to Scaldwell, where his story found no credence. He went over in broad day-light on the following morning--a bright day in September--but, except an appearance here and there of trampled grass, could find nothing to corroborate his belief that a considerable company had been there the night before. It was indeed rumoured that a regiment of horse, accompanied by a kind of car, had passed through Brixworth on the previous day: but little notice was taken of this circumstance; and the sergeant's story, though he continued to assert it till his dying day, was looked upon as a mere delusion of the imagination. Recent historical discoveries, however, have tended to confirm this statement; by making it at least probable that Cromwell's instructions were complied with, and he himself interred in that spot at Naseby, where he had turned the fate of the day, and thus laid the foundation of his own future greatness.
The 29th of May, 1660, not only restored her Church and her King to England, but brought back peace and happiness to many of her children. Herbert and Basil, having witnessed the triumphant procession from Black-heath, rode post to Scaldwell; and the family circle, though on earth it could never again be entire, was once more no longer separated by civil strife.
It had been the earnest prayer of Mr. Tresham, that he might live to see the Church in England resettled; and his desire was granted. Orton, the intruding minister, died--as some said, destroyed himself--before the Restoration; so that Mr. Tresham peaceably returned, immediately after that event, to the rectory. "His eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated," though now in extreme old age; and he undertook the duties of a parish priest with undiminished vigour. He watched with intense interest the proceedings of the Savoy Conference; and when it was known that a revised edition of the Common Prayer was contemplated, he became most anxious, lest any undue concessions should be made. Before its appearance, he was confined to his bed by his last sickness; and more than once expressed his fears that he should not live to know what had been changed in it. By Basil's means, one of the earliest copies was forwarded from London; and Agatha was instantly summoned to undo the treasure.
Sitting down by her father's bedside, she read slowly and distinctly the preface. He expressed himself much pleased with several passages, and especially when she came to the sentence, "We are fully persuaded in our judgments, and we here submit it to the world, that the book, as it stood before established in law, doth not contain anything contrary to the word of GOD, or to sound doctrine."
"That is a good confession to set out with," said the rector. "Is there any alteration in the Calendar? "
"Yes," replied Agatha; " we have two new Saints'-days, S. Paul and S. Barnabas."
"Very good indeed," said Mr. Tresham.
"I can find no alteration in the order for Daily Prayer except the addition of a Collect for all sorts and conditions of men, and a General Thanksgiving."
"Well," said Mr. Tresham, when he had heard them, "they were not perhaps absolutely needed, but they are beautiful prayers,--and, if I am not mistaken, I can recognize my old friend, Sanderson, in the last."
"The Epistles and Gospels, I see," pursued Agatha, "are taken out of the Common Translation, but the Psalms are left."
"I should have been very sorry," remarked her father, "if they had been touched. They are more homely than King James's Translation; but there always seems to me much more heart and feeling in them."
"Here is an office for Adult Baptism," proceeded Agatha; "I am sure that will be much needed."
"Let me hear it," said Mr. Tresham. It was read, and he expressed himself much delighted with it.
"I can only find one more alteration," said Agatha, "and that is in the Communion Service, where, before the Prayer for the Church Militant, a rubric is introduced, commanding the Priest THEN to set the Elements on the Altar; and in the Prayer itself, after 'we beseech Thee to accept these our alms,' the words, 'and oblations, we added."
"That is a very great improvement," said Mr. Tresham; "it brings distinctly forward the doctrine of a Commemorative Sacrifice in the Holy Eucharist, which had hitherto been too much obscured. Well, after the fear with which I regarded this revision of the Prayer Book, I may well, my Agatha, take up, with aged Simeon, my Nunc dimittis."