Зображення сторінки
PDF

“ Thou art no mortal," cricd the empress ; royal gift, which I would part with to no other, “ who can advise like thee? who can foresee I willingly give to thee." everything like thee? who can bend each The empress held out the precious, the one to thy will like thee? Thou art some priceless reliquary, to the old man ; but be tutelur saint, and no mortal; tell us thy shrank from it, and he clasped his bands, and name, that we may do thec homage."

turned away, overcome with sudden emotion. "I am but mortal, as thou thyself art, em- “Holy man, what ails thee?" cried the as. press," returned the old man; “and if a tonished empress, still holding out the splenclearer insight into the counsels of statesmen, did gift : but the old man still averted his and the fortunes of war, hath been vouchsafed eyes, and drew back. me, it is but the result of an experience "I seek no gift, nor will I take one,” said lengthened out far beyond that of others. It he in a faltering voice; “ follow my counsels, is for thee, and the welfare of this poor land, Empress Maude, and seek the welfare of this that my life is lengthened, and methinks i poor land, and then indeed am I repaid." shall not die until her peace be accomplish. “By the spear of St. Michael, my lady em. ed."

press," said the Earl of Chester, looking fear. " And the crown firmly placed on the em- Tully round as the old man suddenly disappress's brow," said the Earl of Chester. peared, "that piece of the true cross is a relic

The old man shook his head—“That I of marvellous power. St. Mary, 'lwas well know not; but this I know, that the first step ye had it round your neck when ye rode that now to be taken is to liberate Stephen." black steed, and journeyed thither; for see ye

" Is that the boon you ask, holy man ?" not that the sight of that holy reliquary alone said the empress, angrily.

hath forced that old sorcerer to flee away? " It is."

O, marvellous is the efficacy of the holy " And what shall the empress receive in cross !" exchange ?" said the Earl of Chester.

“He is no sorcerer, but a holy man," re“ Her brother !"

plied the empress. "St. Mary! shall an earl be an exchange “St. Mary save me from such holy men," for a king ?"

cried the Earl of Chester, in unpretended fear, “Aye-a worthy exchange, seeing that the “I will forthwith pray father Yeslebert to empress can do little without him. But 0! teach me some spell, and I well send to the would that with the release of both from cap. abbey at Chester for the finger of St. Martin ; tivity, war inight cease from the land." that may secure me in some measure; but

" War will not cease, if Stephen be at li. saints know I would right gladly pay two berty," again replied the Earl of Chester score pounds of pure silver of the assay of

* Stephen hath been unjustly held captive, the exchequer, for a splinter of the true and therefore "must he be released :--that cross." boon which the empress at London and at The empress smiled at the fears of the earl, Winchester refused, she must surely grant nor perhaps was she altogether displeased at now," replied the old man.

them, for she had already repented of her “I will grant it,” said the empress : "but promise to relieve Stephen, since she had reshall I not again regain my crown ?"

ceived intelligence that very morning, that “ That Heaven alone knows," replied the iwo of her trustiest knights had undertaken old man; " but take heed, and put away all to effect the escape of the Earl of Gloucester; wrong, and injustice, for a crown, ere now, and, regardless of her solemn vow in the hath been thus lost."

castle of Devizes, and her promise to the “Say no more, holy man, Stephen shall be mysterious old man, her ambitious feelings set free," said the empress : “but say, what again prevailed, and she determined to break shall I do for tl.ee? Silver and gold, though her word. valueless to thyself, may be useful to others, Seven days passed away, and each suc. who may seek thine aid."

ceeding morning brought her glad intelli"I need not silver or gold.”

gence of soldiers returned to their allegiance, “ Yel stay, holy man. One guerdon I can of knights and nobles, who had sought the proffer thee, which thou canst not refuse ; city of Gloucester to profer the aid of their Abbot Eustace of Glastonbury prayed me for good swords; and, best of all, the expected it, but I said him nay ; even the ihe Bishop release of her devoted brother: and, rejoiced of Winchester asked it, but I would not give at the unlooked-for appearances of returning it. It is this ;" and she unclasped from her good fortune, Empress Maude, on the eve of neck a massive gold chain, to which hung a St. Denys, proceeded in solemn state to yeslocket of gold tillagree and enamel.

pers at the abbey-church of St. Peter. There The old man started back as she laid it be. she sat, while the rich choral chant of the fore him. “Ay, well mayst thou wonder at Magnificut pealed along the aisles; but, as its beauty," continued the empress; “ for it the words “ Deposuit potentis a sede," were was wrought by Stigand, the goldsmith, for sung, a well-known voice said, with solemn the blessed Confessor, and it was worn by emphasis, “ Even so, for the crown hath dethe usurper Harold, on the very day of the parted from thy brow." The empress turned fight of Hastings. It encloses a piece of the anxiously round, but the too-well-known true cross," continued she, opening the outer stranger had already disappeared, and a wed case, and reverently kissing the crystal that and distressed at that solemn warning, with enshrined the sacred relic; “but this right heavy heart she returned.

And true indeed seemed that warning of ill. for there indeed was her only refuge. At The attempts to release Earl Robert of Glou- length the shock came that shook the castle cester were all unavailing ; her nobles, weary to its very foundations, and the crash that of the unequal contest,were about to renounce followed proved that its ironbound door had their allegiance to her, and with scanty pro. given way. visions, a turbulent garrison, and an ill-forti- "All is lost," said the empress, " and I refied city, Empress Maude was forced to sueceive the reward of my pride !" for the exchange of Earl Robert for Stephen, “Nay, fly! empress, fly!" urged the aged and to send the baron, whom she most trusted, seneschal ; "fly! cre Stephen enter.” the Earl of Chester, to negotiate the ex. The empress cast a despairing look at the change.

darkening sky, at the snow-wrapt fields, at At length, on All Soul's day, Stephen was the court-yard crowded with her foemen, and released from his captivity, and Earl Robert bitterly said, “ How can I fly ?" of Gloucester again welcomed his sister. But “ Follow me," said a low voice. vain and hopeless was now the contest; and, The empress sprang forward, and fell at as a last resource, Earl Robert, placing the the stranger's feet, for weil did she know him. empress in the castle of Oxford, with a gar- “ No time is to be lost," said he ; " lay rison of tried and faithful followers, passed aside that princely dress, and follow me.” over 10 Anjou to endeavor to prevail on her Whither should she follow him ?-how long-neglected husband to send relief. And could she pass unrecognisd through the very pent up in that dreary stronghold, Empress midst of her toemen ?-how? But these Maude passed her melancholy Christmas, and thoughts entered not her mind : thrice had when the feast of Candlemas had come and that mysterious guardian borne hersafely from gone, and yet there were no tidings from danger, and should she distrust him now ! Anjou, bitterly did she lament her contempt At his bidding the jewelled circlet was reof the counsel of her mysterious guardian, moved from the brow, the gorgeous jewelled and earnestly, though in vain, did she pray collar with its precious reliquary which the once more to behold him.

old man had so strangely refused, the masAt length the long-dreaded crisis of her sive bracelets, the broidered girdle were all fate arrived. Stephen, at the head of a chosen hastily stripped off ; and then ihe ermined band, had appeared before the city, (at this mantle, the wimple of Cyprus lawn, the rich time entirely surrounded by water,) and sum- silken robe, even the delicate gold-wrought. moned the garrison to surrender. To this slipper; and in the slight under-dress, scarcely summons, loud and bitter scoffs were the only covered by a coarse woollen cloak, wi:h head reply ; and trusting to the deep and swollen of russet and sandals of undress leather, such waters that bathed the outer wall of the as were worn by the very meanest of the castle, the men-at-arms scornfully pointing to people, the widow of the Kaisar, the crownthe heavy chain mail that enveloped him and ed Queen of England, prepared to follow her his war-steed, bade Stephen advance at his aged guardian she knew not whither. Yet peril. But the star of the liberated monarchere she went, a touch of gentle feeling was was now in the ascendant; he suddenly re- awakened in the breast so long steeled against collected that in one part the river was ford truth and pity." But these," said she, pointable, and reckless of his ponderous coat of ing to the aged seneschal and her two attendmail, he dashed in, and cheering on his gal. ants, “ wherefore should I escape and leave lant company to follow, crossed safely, and them to their fate ?" made answer to their defiance by breaking “Let them give that to Stephen," said the open the ill-guarded gate by the blows of his old man, pointing to the precious reliquary, huge battle-axe. In the confusion that fol. " and it will be a right royal ransom." lowed, Stephen at the head of that gallant! The old man pressed his foot against a company, entered the city, and while the in- marble stone just beneath the loophole win. habitants of the castle, wild with terror, knew dow; it gave way, and discovered a narrow not what to do, the thundering sounds of and almost perpendicular flight of stone stairs. mangonel and battering-ram too plainly told " This was Beauclerc's last invention," said how swiftly, and how completely, Stephen he ; " but how little did he foresee that it had determined to follow up his victory. would afford his daughter, at her greatest

“All is now lost," cried the aged seneschal, I peril, her only means of escape !" rushing to the presence of the empress ; And well was that secret way constructed : “ Stephen is at the door!"

the narrow stair led to a winding passage, Empress Maude advanced to the narrow that communicated with the inner wall, and loophole that commanded the view of the in. then turning sharply round continued, until ner court-yard ; she heard with appalling it was closed by a wicket-gate, wholly condistinctness the shrill whistle of the shafts, cealed among bushes, in a neighboring meaand the shouts as each well-directed arrowdow. brought down some man-at-arms from the The night wind blew keenly, as that low battlements, and she saw the huge battering- wicket-gate opened, and the bushes, laden ram, with his iron-bound head, slowly raised with snow, were pushed aside ; but onward by the efforts of two score men, and swung the haughty and tenderly-nurtured empress back, in readiness, at the word of command, must go, unattended save by one stranger, to to beat in the massive door, and she clasped whose care the old man committed herher hands, and looked up in agony to heaven, unattired, save in that coarse and scanty dress; nor, until many a snowy waste hadi “And now thou art dying, holy man! O been passed, and her strength well nigh gone, what shall I do, bereft of my wisest, though, did the welcome sight of distant towers, faintly alas ! too often uuheeded adviser !" visible in the grey dawn, urge her wearyl “Look up to Heaven, and ask wisdom footsteps to reach that place of refuge. Those there,” distant towers were soon gained. At the " But who art thou, holy man, for thou art summons of her unknown conductor, the gates no mere monk ?" were soon flung open, and Empress Maude, a “ I am nought but a sinner." third time rescued from captivity, perhaps “Nay, holy man, a saint rather ; tell me death, fell on her knees, and returning thanks who thou really art-o tell me, that by to Heaven, that had once more heard her ihy real name, whien thou art departed, we prayer, vowed that a fair abby, dedicated to muy pray to thee." à Notre Dame du Veu" *'should commemor. "Pray to God alone.” The old man paused, ate her gratitude and her deliverance and gazed on the anxious countenance of the did pilgrim ever dream, as his eye perchance such an education as the parish school could carelessly fell on a simple stone, marked only afford. Half a century since there was a large by the cross, that the veritable Harold, the class of Scottish benefices-(their extreme last monarch of the Saxon dynasty, unrecord. poverty was first exhibited to the public eye ed, unhonored, slumbered below.

Scarcely casting a look around her, she kneeling empress, and he bade the attendants, was led into a chamber, and while the bath all except Earl Reineld of Chester, to with. was preparing to refresh her toilworn frame, draw. · Empress Maude," said he," would and the attendant damsels removed the coarse ye learn who I am, think of him who, if cloak, wet with half-melted snow, and the living, could best read a lesson on ambition rude sandals from her bleeding feet, she to ye-of him who, once chief subject in the lifted her eyes, half unconsciously,—they fell land, aimed at a higher prize, aud lost all. upon a mirror, and she started back.- "How He, whom ye now see with the weight of an name you this place ?" said she.

hundred and fifteen years on his head, was “ The Castle of Wallingford.”

once chief in this land ; but he met the just Yes! that which so many years ago had been punishment of his ambition, and while all foretold had come to pass. Joyfully as the believed him dead, and some mourned over deer pursued by the hunter, or the bird by his memory, he lived on, a nameless, friend. the fulcon, had she indeed sought the refuge less, unknown wanderer, bent on one object of the Castle of Wallingford, and there she alone, vowed to one only expiation of his stood, in that very room where she had crime-the welfare of this poor land. En. laughed to scorn the revelation of the charm-press Maude, well canst thou tell his name. ed mirror, crownless, robeless,-stripped of “Holy man, I cannot : Harold fell al Hast. every ornament betilting her high station, ings, my grandsire William rests at Caen. wet and mire-besmeared,-a pale, weary, Thou once chief in this land? Who canst half-fainting Tugitive. “Never shall the thou be ?" peace of this hapless land again be broken Harold. Yes! believed dead alike by by me," said the repentant empress ; and friend and foe, I was conveyed, just living, firmly kept was that vow. .

from that fatal battle-field; and when, after

years of slow recovery, I once more went Three days passed away, but although forth, I sought the field of Hastings, and there diligent search had been made no tidings had solemnly pledged myself to aid the peace of been learnt of that mysterious old man. On that poor land, whose ruin I had wrought. the fourth day, a lay-brother from the Priory Surely it was for this that my life hath been of the Holy Trinity, at Wallingford, sought thus wondrously lengthened oui, and surcly the Castle, with a message from a dying now, when her peace is accomplished, I shall monk, one brother Leonard, earnestly en- be permitted to depart. Marvel poi, there. treating the empress to come and see him. fore, empress, that he who once was lord of Right willingly did the daughter of Beauclerc the Castle of Winchester should have known obey the suminons, for she feared that it was its strongholds, nor that he who wore that to the death-bed of her unknown deliverer. very reliquary at the battle of Hastings should It was so. And when she knelt by his rude have shudilered at its sight. Wcalth, untold couch, and gazed upon his changed features, wealth, buried before that fatal battle, and her long-repressed tears burst forth, for she known only to me, gave me power to pur. knew indeed that he was morial. “Holy chase whatever aid I needed, and thus en. man," cried she," who canst thou be, to whom abled me to do what seemed impossible to a everything is known ? Can thy life have mere dweller of the cloister. My work is been passed in this mean priory?"

done ; and now, I pray ye, disclose not my “ Only my later years," replied the dying secret to those around me, who believe that monk.

seventy years since I was laid in Waltham “And wherefore did ye seek the cloister?-- Abbey, but bury me as brother Leonard." and wherefore, O most holy man ! that watch-! Thus saying, the weary spirit of the old ful, unceasing care over my father snd my man departed; and, faithtul io his last wish, self ?"

The empress caused his obsequies simply but “ Thy father, Empress Maude, supported reverently to be performed in the church of the rights of the saxon, and therefore was he the Holy Trinity at Wallingford. dear to me; I vowed to him to watch over And while, for centuries after, thousands thine interest, and hence my care of thee." flocked to the noble Abbey of Waltham, to

gaze on the silver inlaid tomb, inscribed “Hic * This was built the following year near Cher

1 jacet Haroldus,” few visited the lowly church of the Holy Trinity at Wallingford, and little

[ocr errors]

bourg.

by Sir John Sinclair's statistical account, and remedied so far as could be done by a grant from the exchequer, raising them to one hundred and fifty pounds)-the total value of the emoluments of which fell greatly under one hundred pounds, and often did not exceed

from fifty pounds to sixty pounds a year. Of THE YOUNG WILKIE.

ope of the poorest of these Cutts was an ex

ample, so that while the Rev. Mr. Wilkie had DURING an acquaintance of some duration with the midland parts of Fifeshire, I hap

to keep up the rank which Scottish ministers

always maintain in their parishes, and to pened occasionally to be thrown in the neigh

attend to those demands from the necessitous borhood of the birth.place of Sir David Wil.

which they, who preach charity to others, kie, und to come in contact with some of the

cannot overlook, and at the same time to edu. friends of his father, and several of the

cate and bring up a considerable family, his schoolfellows of the illustrious painter him.

means were not equal to the wages of an orself. I had also the pleasure of seeing the

dinary mechanic of these times. Under these first picture in oil known to have been painted

circumstances the manse of Cutts could not by him, together with several others which

be supposed to exhibit either a princely abund. must have left his hands so early in life, that

ance of servants, or magnificence of furniture. he himself probably may now be as ignoranı

The luxury of carpets-less universal then of their existence, as of the time or circum

than now-was accordingly unknown; while stances under which they were painted. Of

to the hands of Mrs. Wilkie frequently fell a the numerous particulars and anecdotes which

share of those labors which, in beller endowed I heard related in regard to the youthful

establishments, would have been considered painter, and his earlier works, there are one

as belonging exclusively to those of the houseor two, illustrative of the development of his

maid or the nursery-maid. The residence of genius, the authenticity of which, from the

the very excellent family of Leven and Mel. sources whence they were derived, may be

ville, distinguished for generations for :heir depended on; and which, though strictly

exemplary attention to the ordinances and private, in so far as they refer to him person

ministers of religion, happens to be at no ally, and have not before appeared in a pub

great distance from Cutts; and one day, when lished forın, are not so in any sense tending

" Lord and Lady Balgonie were on a visit to to injure or improperly expose individual

the manse, Mrs. Wilkie, who had been feelings; and which, from the position which

“keeping wee Davie," then not two years the subject of them now occupies, as, in a

old, having ushered in her noble visitors, had certain style, the most distinguished artist in

to set aside her young charge to look out for Europe, may not be uninteresting to your

| amusement for himself during their stay. readers.

| Amusement accordingly he found ; prophe. It may be premised that the district and

tic, (has those round him been interpreters profession to which the father of Sir David Wilkie belonged, has been fruitful beyond

of prophecy,) of his future career. The floor

was carpeiless, and Wilkie having obtained example-where no extreme circumstances

a piece of burnt stick frora the fire-place, concould account for the fact--in eminent men,

tinued scratching, beneath the table, infiniteall nearly of the same age, in the present day

ly to his own delight, apparently, till his and generation. There are just twenty cler

mother was at leisure to attend to him. He gymen in the presbytery of Cupar, and nei.

was now clapping his hands and screaming in iher are the riches of the benetices, nor the

the ecstacies of enjoyment, as pointing to his means of attaining them, such as to confine

performance, he continued to cry—“Ma, their occupancy to the élite of the church;

Gonies nose! ma, see 'Gonies nose!” And yet from manses “ within the bounds," at

there, to be sure, on the floor, was a very fair nearly the same time, sprang Sir John and

attempt at a profile of Lord Balgonie, the Sir George Campbell, Sir David Wilkie, and

conspicuousness of “the fundamental feaSerjeant Spankie; while Dr. Chalmers, Dr.

tures” of whose face-a peculiarity still cha. Fleming, and Dr. Gillespie, now professors

racteristic of the family of the Leslies-had of mineralogy, natural philosophy, and hu

. attracted the attention, and evoked the deli. manity, respeciively in the Universities of,

neative powers of the future Sir David. This, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and St. Andrew's, have,

as it may well seem to be, is his first known within these twenty years, been clergymen

"effort in picture making ; and certainly, if the in this otherwise obscure district of Scot-line could he narodieds nolied to the land.

shippers of the dumb “sister of poetry," it The father of Sir David Wilkie was a cler

might be said of Wilkie as of Pope, Eyman in the small and retired rural parish" of Cutts, above four miles south.west of Cupar, “ He lisped in numbers for the numbers came." the county town of Fife. Here the future painter of the “Chelsea Pensioners' first Geologists would, I suppose, call this “ the saw the light, and received the rudiments of carboniferous era” of Wilkie's existence, in

[ocr errors]

season. Though no rain fell, nor did there “Sterne is the author! His erratic muse can appear any immediate probability of a show- always entangle and fix the wandering ima. er, every thing exposed to the air was beaded gination." in pendant drops with damp, and, even with- In tive minutes, or less, the door was hurri. in, the condensed fog ran in rivulets stream. edly opened. ing down the windows, as if the morning was “What ! Lord Mayor's day, and keep already in tears through anticipation of ge- within doors, when so many hundreds have neral disappointment.

travelled hundreds of miles to see the sight! “ What can be the reason, thought I to No, no !-come. The day's as tine as can be

year is sure to be wet? There seems said lively Ned, ny country.cousin, “and to be a spell about it. Yet, what's that to let us see what's to be seen, as well as others." me ?-I'm comfortable enough by this good " What's to be seen !” said I, listlessly fire ;" and incontinently I seized the poker, turning over another leaf of Tristram Shan. and went to work, hardly conscious what I dy; " have I not seen Lord Mayor's days did, till the fender was full of burning cin every year since I came to town? Don't I ders, and my eyes full of ashes. "I'm very know the old Lord Mayor and the new ?snug here," continued I, poking away at the quiet, plain people enough, when out of their grate with the fidgetty vehemence of a man official feathers-it's only ihe trappings that who wishes to persuade himself he is what make an alderman a donkey: then he brays he knows he is not. “I shall not stir out till himself into a senator, - oplat Ephippia bos," the hubbub's over. I will write, and employ till he is detected by his bungling in a job, myself profitably till dinner, and then read and the patriot is kicked out of the house the account of it in all the evening papers, with the contempt of both Whigs and and just as well-why not? They write Tories." their criticisms on new plays and fresh per-' “ Hang the jobs and the patriots! It's the formers some days or hours before they ever queen-she's the inducement upon this occi. appear. Sad dogs! and yet they dictate sion. Leave off sermonising-I know you're to ihe town! Why shouldn't they if we pay loyal, and must be gratified to witness the them for it?" With my eyes fixed on the spectacle of the key of the good old city deli. grate, I went on musing till ihe black flakes, vered into her hands in her progress to visit waving on the bars, and which the supersti- the lord mayor to-day. She wears her crowa tious in the north assure you portend stran. and honors gracefully, I hear, and the little gers' vists, became of various colors, and at star of Brunswick already augurs a bright length assumed the armorial bearings of the future for merry England." different corporations of London. The fire “ Bravely prophesied ! my rural coz," said blazing now brighter, a mass of fairy figures 1, "and not io baulk thy enthusiasm, I'll e'en appeared, and a procession in miniature make one with thee, and swell the triumphant made its way through the cinders with all its note of greeting. glittering symbols-knights in steel and bra. Upon such an occasion attention to the toi. zen armor: nor did lawake from the agreeable lette would be superfluous. I am one of those reverie, till I saw the Lord Mayor of Lilliput who, when they enter upon anything, set out descend from his tiny gingerbread coach, spiritoso, so I pulled an old hat off the rack, and step into Childe's banking-house at Tem. and investing my outward man in a rough ple bar. This was too gross. “Oh, ho," pilot coat adapted to rough weather, or rough said I; "• Queen Mab, I see, hath been with usage, took my cousin by the arm, and you;'" so I wheeled round my chair to the under way exactly as the clock struck twelve. breakfast table. A round of loast disappear. “The street I live in, debouches, as the ed, an egg followed, and washing all down French cocksparrow used to say in his with a large cup of coffee, I jumped up, con- despatches, into the Strand on the north, gratulating myself on my comfortable deter- upon the river on the south. The sound mination to remain at home, walked about of artillery reached our ears from the wathe room, but could not for the life of me pre. I ter-side. vent myself from humming by snatches odd “What's that ?" inquired the young lines of " God save the queen." “ This is the country gent. devil," said I, and began an air from “ Fra “Oh,” said I, determined on a hoax, "it's Diavolo," which, however, soon died away her majesty coming by barge from the into the tiresome old crotchets of the nation. | Tower." al anthem. - This is all very silly," said I to "Bah !” said Ned; "catch her within myself ; “but it's not wonderful either, for the Tower-she knows better. It's a prithere's the Savoyard boy, with an organ, un son for tip-top radicals and rebels, like Deder the window, and the Darmstadt brass spard, Burdett, and Thistlewood, that are band up the street, all grinding away at the ambitious of being hanged for the benefit same tune." Took a turn to the window of society." the cold fog was slowly yielding to the in. I laughed at this expression of homely fiuence of the westerly wind, as I would tain loyalty, affected surprise at his being ig. imagine-it might be the sun's influence for norant that it was the ancient palace of what I cared_"It would certainly rain, and our monarchs, and asked him whether the spoil all their sport," and then I look Sterne line of Hanover might not descend to redown from the book-case. “Ay,” said 1, 1 side where so many of the warlike races

« НазадПродовжити »