Chapter 44

THE KING.

Some months before the battle of Naseby, which was fought in June early, that is, in the year 1645, the plans of the king having now ripened, he gave a secret commission for Ireland to the earl of Glamorgan, with immense powers, among the rest that of coining money, in order that he might be in a position to make proposals towards certain arrangements with the Irish catholics, which, in view of the prejudices of the king's protestant council, it was of vital importance to keep secret. Glamorgan therefore took a long leave of his wife and family, and in the month of March set out for Dublin. At Caernarvon, they got on board a small barque, laden with corn, but, in rough weather that followed, were cast ashore on the coast of Lancashire. A second attempt failed also, for, pursued by a parliament vessel, they were again compelled to land on the same coast. It was the middle of summer before they reached Dublin. During this period there was of course great anxiety in Raglan, the chief part of which was lady Glamorgan's. At times she felt that but for the sympathy of Dorothy, often silent but always ministrant, she would have broken down quite under the burden of ignorance and its attendant anxiety. In the prolonged absence of her husband, and the irregularity of tidings, for they came at uncertain as well as wide intervals, her yearnings after her vanished Molly, which had become more patient, returned with all their early vehemence, and she began to brood on the meeting beyond the grave of which her religion waked her hope. Nor was this all: her religion itself grew more real; for although there is nothing essentially religious in thinking of the future, although there is more of the heart of religion in the taking of strength from the love of God to do the commonest duty, than in all the longing for a blessed hereafter of which the soul is capable, yet the love of a little child is very close to the love of the great Father; and the loss that sets any affection aching and longing, heaves, as on a wave from the very heart of the human ocean, the labouring spirit up towards the source of life and restoration. In like manner, from their common love to the child, and their common sense of loss in her death, the hearts of the two women drew closer to each other, and protestant mistress Dorothy was able to speak words of comfort to catholic lady Glamorgan, which the hearer found would lie on the shelf of her creed none the less quietly that the giver had lifted them from the shelf of hers. One evening, while yet lady Glamorgan had had no news of her husband's arrival in Ireland, and the bright June weather continued clouded with uncertainty and fear, lady Broughton came panting into her parlour with the tidings that a courier had just arrived at the main entrance, himself pale with fatigue, and his horse white with foam. 'Alas! alas!' cried lady Glamorgan, and fell back in her chair, faint with apprehension, for what might not be the message he bore? Ere Dorothy had succeeded in calming her, the marquis himself came hobbling in, with the news that the king was coming. 'Is that all?' said the countess, heaving a deep sigh, while the tears ran down her cheeks. 'Is that all?' repeated her father-in-law. 'How, my lady! Is there then nobody in all the world but Glamorgan? Verily I believe thou wouldst turn thy back on the angel Gabriel, if he dared appear before thee without thy Ned under his arm. Bless the Irish heart! I never gave thee MY Ned that thou shouldst fall down and worship the fellow.' 'Bear with me, sir,' she answered faintly. 'It is but the pain here. Thou knowest I cannot tell but he lieth at the bottom of the Irish Sea.' 'If he do lie there, then lieth he in Abraham's bosom, daughter, where I trust there is room for thee and me also. Thou rememberest how thy Molly said once to thee, 'Madam, thy bosom is not so big as my lord Abraham's. What a big bosom my lord Abraham must have!' Lady Glamorgan laughed. 'Come then--"to our work alive!" which is now to receive his majesty,' said the marquis. 'My wild Irishwoman--' 'Alas, my lord! tame enough now,' sighed the countess. 'Not too tame to understand that she must represent her husband before the king's majesty,' said lord Worcester. Lady Glamorgan rose, kissed her father-in-law, wiped her eyes, and said-- 'Where, my lord, do you purpose lodging his majesty?' 'In the great north room, over the buttery, and next the picture-gallery, which will serve his majesty to walk in, and the windows there have the finest prospect of all. I did think of the great tower, but--Well--the chamber there is indeed statelier, but it is gloomy as a dull twilight, while the one I intend him to lie in is bright as a summer morning. The tower chamber makes me think of all the lords and ladies that have died therein; the north room, of all the babies that have been born there.' 'Spoken like a man!' murmured lady Glamorgan. 'Have you given directions, my lord?' 'I have sent for sir Ralph. Come with me, Margaret: you and Mary must keep your old father from blundering. Run, Dorothy, and tell Mr. Delaware and Mr. Andrews that I desire their presence in my closet. I miss the rogue Scudamore. They tell me he hath done well, and is sorely wounded. He must feel the better for the one already, and I hope he will soon be nothing the worse for the other.' As he thus talked, they left the room and took their way to the study, where they found the steward waiting them. The whole castle was presently alive with preparations for the king's visit. That he had been so sorely foiled of late, only roused in all the greater desire to receive him with every possible honour. Hope revived in lady Glamorgan's bosom: she would take the coming of the king as a good omen for the return of her husband. Dorothy ran to do the marquis's pleasure. As she ran, it seemed as if some new spring of life had burst forth in her heart. The king! the king actually coming! The God-chosen monarch of England! The head of the church! The type of omnipotence! The wronged, the saintly, the wise! He who fought with bleeding heart for the rights, that he might fulfil the duties to which he was born! She would see him! she would breathe the same air with him! gaze on his gracious countenance unseen until she had imprinted every feature of his divine face upon her heart and memory! The thought was too entrancing. She wept as she ran to find the master of the horse and the master of the fish-ponds. At length, on the evening of the third of July, a pursuivant, accompanied by an advanced guard of horsemen, announced the king, and presently on the north road appeared the dust of his approach. Nearer they came, all on horseback, a court of officers. Travel-stained and weary, with foam-flecked horses, but flowing plumes, flashing armour, and ringing chains, they arrived at the brick gate, where lord Charles himself threw the two leaves open to admit them, and bent the knee before his king. As they entered the marble gate, they saw the marquis descending the great white stair to meet them, leaning for his lameness on the arm of his brother sir Thomas of Troy, and followed by all the ladies and gentlemen and officers in the castle, who stood on the stair while he approached the king's horse, bent his knee, kissed the royal hand, and, rising with difficulty, for the gout had aged him beyond his years, said: 'Domine, non sum dignus.' I would I had not to give this brief dialogue; but it stands on record, and may suggest something worth thinking to him who can read it aright. The king replied: 'My lord, I may very well answer you again: I have not found so great faith in Israel; for no man would trust me with so much money as you have done.' 'I hope your majesty will prove a defender of the faith,' returned the marquis. The king then dismounted, ascended the marble steps with his host, nearly as stiff as he from his long ride, crossed the moat on the undulating drawbridge, passed the echoing gateway, and entered the stone court. The marquis turned to the king, and presented the keys of the castle. The king took them and returned them. 'I pray your majesty keep them in so good a hand. I fear that ere it be long I shall be forced to deliver them into the hands of who will spoil the compliment', said the marquis. 'Nay,' rejoined his majesty, 'but keep them till the King of kings demand the account of your stewardship, my lord.' 'I trust your majesty's name will then be seen where it stands therein,' said the marquis, 'for so it will fare the better with the steward.' In the court, the garrison, horse and foot, a goodly show, was drawn up to receive him, with an open lane through, leading to the north-western angle, where was the stair to the king's apartment. At the draw-well, which lay right in the way, and around which the men stood off in a circle, the king stopped, laid his hand on the wheel, and said gaily: 'My lord, is this your lordship's purse?' 'For your majesty's sake, I would it were,' returned the marquis. At the foot of the stair, on plea of his gout, he delivered his majesty to the care of lord Charles, sir Ralph Blackstone, and Mr. Delaware, who conducted him to his chamber. The king supped alone, but after supper, lady Glamorgan and the other ladies of the family, having requested permission to wait upon him, were ushered into his presence. Each of them took with her one of her ladies in attendance, and Dorothy, being the one chosen by her mistress for that honour, not without the rousing of a strong feeling of injustice in the bosoms of the elder ladies, entered trembling behind her mistress, as if the room were a temple wherein no simulacrum but the divinity himself dwelt in visible presence. His majesty received them courteously, said kind things to several of them, but spoke and behaved at first with a certain long-faced reserve rather than dignity, which, while it jarred a little with Dorothy's ideal of the graciousness that should be mingled with majesty in the perfect monarch, yet operated only to throw her spirit back into that stage of devotion wherein, to use a figure of the king's own, the awe overlays the love. A little later the marquis entered, walking slowly, leaning on the arm of lord Charles, but carrying in his own hands a present of apricots from his brother to the king. Meantime Dorothy's love had begun to rise again from beneath her awe; but when the marquis came in, old and stately, reverend and slow, with a silver dish in each hand and a basket on his arm, and she saw him bow three times ere he presented his offering, himself serving whom all served, himself humble whom all revered, then again did awe nearly overcome her. When the king, however, having graciously received the present, chose for each of the ladies one of the apricots, and coming to Dorothy last, picked out and offered the one he said was likest the bloom of her own fair cheek, gratitude again restored the sway of love, and in the greatness of the honour she almost let slip the compliment. She could not reply, but she looked her thanks, and the king doubtless missed nothing. The next day his majesty rested, but on following days rode to Monmouth, Chepstow, Usk, and other towns in the neighbourhood, whose loyalty, thanks to the marquis, had as yet stood out. After dinner he generally paid the marquis a visit in the oak parlour, then perhaps had a walk in the grounds, or a game on the bowling-green. But although the marquis was devoted to the king's cause, he was not therefore either blinded or indifferent to the king's faults, and as an old man who had long been trying to grow better, he made up his mind to risk a respectful word in the matter of kingly obligation. One day, therefore, when his majesty entered the oak parlour, he found his host sitting by the table with his Gower lying open before him, as if he had been reading, which doubtless was the case. 'What book have you there, my lord?' asked the king--while some of his courtiers stood near the door, and others gazed from the window on the moat and the swelling, towering mass of the keep. 'I like to know what books my friends read.' 'Sir, it is old master John Gower's book of verses, entitled Confessio Amantis,' answered his lordship. 'It is a book I have never seen before,' said the king, glancing at its pages. 'Oh!' returned the marquis, 'it is a book of books, which if your majesty had been well versed in, it would have made you a king of kings.' 'Why so, my lord?' asked the king. 'Why,' said the marquis, 'here is set down how Aristotle brought up and instructed Alexander the Great in all his rudiments, and the principles belonging to a prince. Allow me, sir, to read you such a passage as will show your majesty the truth of what I say.' He opened the book and read: 'Among the vertues one is chefe, And that is trouthe, which is lefe (dear) To God and eke to man also. And for it hath ben ever so, Taught Aristotle, as he well couth, (knew) To Alisaundre, how in his youth He shulde of trouthe thilke grace (that same) With all his hole herte embrace, So that his word be trewe and pleine Toward the world, and so certeine, That in him be no double speche. For if men shulde trouthe seche, And found it nought within a king, It were an unfittende thing The worde is token of that within; There shall a worthy king begin To kepe his tunge and to be trewe, So shall his price ben ever newe.' 'And here, sir, is what he saith as to the significance of the kingly crown, if your majesty will allow me to read it.' 'Read on, my lord; all is good and true,' said the king. 'The gold betokneth excellence, That men shuld done him reverence, As to her lege soveraine. (their liege) The stones, as the bokes saine, Commended ben in treble wise. First, they ben hard, and thilke assise (that attribute) Betokeneth in a king constaunce, So that there shall be no variaunce Be found in his condicion. And also by description The vertue, whiche is in the stones, A verray signe is for the nones Of that a king shall ben honest, And holde trewely his behest (promise) Of thing, which longeth to kinghede.' (belongeth) 'And so on--for I were loath to weary your majesty--of the colour of the stones, and the circular form of the crown.' 'Read on, my lord,' said the king. Several passages, therefore, did the marquis pick out and read--amongst which probably were certain concerning flatterers--taking care still to speak of Alexander and Aristotle, and by no means of king and marquis, until at length he had 'read the king such a lesson,' as Dr. Bayly informs us, 'that the bystanders were amazed at his boldness.' 'My lord, have you got your lesson by heart, or speak you out of the book?' asked the king, taking the volume. 'Sir,' the marquis replied, 'if you could read my heart, it may be you might find it there; or if your majesty please to get it by heart, I will lend you my book.' 'I would willingly borrow it,' said the king. 'Nay,' said the marquis, 'I will lend it to you upon these conditions: first, that you read it; and, second, that you make use of it.' Here, glancing round, well knowing the nature of the soil upon which his words fell, he saw 'some of the new-made lords displeased, fretting and biting their thumbs,' and thus therefore resumed:-- 'But, sir, I assure you that no man was so much for the absolute power of the king as Aristotle. If your majesty will allow me the book again, I will show you one remarkable passage to that purpose.' Having searched the volume for a moment, and found it, he read as follows:-- 'Harpaghes first his tale tolde, And said, how that the strength of kinges Is mightiest of alle thinges. For king hath power over man, And man is he, which reson can, As he, which is of his nature The most noble creature Of alle tho that God hath wrought. And by that skill it seemeth nought, (for that reason) He saith that any erthly thing May be so mighty as a king. A king may spille, a king may save, A king may make of lorde a knave, And of a knave a lord also; The power of a king stant so That he the lawes overpasseth. What he will make lasse, he lasseth; What he will make more, he moreth; And as a gentil faucon soreth, He fleeth, that no man him reclaimeth. But he alone all other tameth, And slant him self of lawe fre.' 'There, my liege! So much for Aristotle and the kinghood! But think not he taketh me with him all the way. By our Lady, I go not so far.' Lifting his head again, he saw, to his wish, that 'divers new-made lords' had 'slunk out of the room.' 'My lord,' said the king, 'at this rate you will drive away all my nobility.' 'I protest unto your majesty,' the marquis replied, 'I am as new a made lord as any of them all, but I was never called knave or rogue so much in all my life as I have been since I received this last honour: and why should they not bear their shares?' In high good-humour with his success, he told the story the same evening to lady Glamorgan in Dorothy's presence. It gave her ground for thought: she wondered that the marquis should think the king required such lessoning. She had never dreamed that a man and his office are not only metaphysically distinct, but may be morally separate things; she had hitherto taken the office as the pledge for the man, the show as the pledge for the reality; and now therefore her notion of the king received a rude shock from his best friend. The arrival of his majesty had added to her labours, for now again horse must spout every day,--with no Molly to see it and rejoice. Every fountain rushed heavenwards, 'and all the air' was 'filled with pleasant noise of waters.' This required the fire-engine to be kept pretty constantly at work, and Dorothy had to run up and down the stair of the great tower several times a-day. But she lingered on the top as often and as long as she might. One glorious July afternoon, gazing from the top of the keep, she saw his majesty, the marquis, some of the courtiers, and a Mr. Prichard of the neighbourhood, on the bowling-green, having a game together. It was like looking at a toy-representation of one, for, so far below, everything was wondrously dwarfed and fore-shortened. But certainly it was a pretty sight-the gay garments, the moving figures, the bowls rolling like marbles over the green carpet, while the sun, and the blue sky, and just an air of wind--enough to turn every leaf into a languidly waved fan, enclosed it in loveliness and filled it with life. It was like a picture from a CAMERA OBSCURA dropped right at the foot of the keep, for the surrounding walk, moat, and sunk walk beyond, were, seen from that height, but enough to keep the bowling-green, which came to the edge of the sunk walk, twelve feet below it, from appearing to cling to the foundations of the tower. The circle of arches filled with shell-work and statues of Roman emperors, which formed the face of the escarpment of the sunk walk, looked like a curiously-cut fringe to the carpet. While Dorothy aloft was thus looking down and watching the game,-- 'What a lovely prospect it is!' said his majesty below, addressing Mr. Prichard, while the marquis bowled. Making answer, Mr. Prichard pointed out where his own house lay, half hidden by a grove, and said--'May it please your majesty, I have advised my lord to cut down those trees, so that when he wants a good player at bowls, he may have but to beckon.' 'Nay,' returned the king, 'he should plant more trees, that so he might not see thy house at all.' The marquis, who had bowled, and was coming towards them, heard what the king said, and fancying he aimed at the fault of the greedy buying-up of land-- 'If your majesty hath had enough of the game,' he said, 'and will climb with me to the top of the tower, I will show you what may do your mind some ease.' 'I should be sorry to set your Lordship such an arduous task,' replied the king. 'But I am very desirous of seeing your great tower, and if you will permit me, I will climb the stair without your attendance.' 'Sir, it will pleasure me to think that the last time ever I ascended those stairs, I conducted your majesty. For indeed it shall be the last time. I grow old.' As the marquis spoke, he led towards the twin-arched bridge over the castle-moat, then through the western gate, and along the side of the court to the Gothic bridge, on their way despatching one of his gentlemen to fetch the keys of the tower. 'My lord,' said the king when the messenger had gone, 'there are some men so unreasonable as to make me believe that your lordship hath good store of gold yet left within the tower; but I, knowing how I have exhausted you, could never have believed it, until now I see you will not trust the keys with any but yourself.' 'Sir,' answered the marquis, 'I was so far from giving your majesty any such occasion of thought by this tender of my duty, that I protest unto you that I was once resolved that your majesty should have lain there, but that I was loath to commit your majesty to the Tower.' 'You are more considerate, my lord, than some of my subjects would be if they had me as much in their keeping,' answered the king sadly. 'But what are those pipes let into the wall up there?' he asked, stopping in the middle of the bridge and looking up at the keep. 'Nay, sire, my son Edward must tell you that. He taketh strange liberties with the mighty old hulk. But I will not injure his good grace with your majesty by talking of that I understand not. I trust that one day, when you shall no more require his absence, you will yet again condescend to be my guest, when my son, by your majesty's favour now my lord Glamorgan, will have things to show you that will delight your eyes to behold.' 'I have ere now seen something of his performance,' answered the king; 'but these naughty times give room for nothing in that kind but guns and swords.' Leaving the workshop unvisited, his lordship took the king up the stair, and unlocking the entrance to the first floor, ushered him into a lofty vaulted chamber, old in the midst of antiquity, dark, vast, and stately. 'This is where I did think to lodge your majesty,' he said, 'but--but--your majesty sees it is gloomy, for the windows are narrow, and the walls are ten feet through.' 'It maketh me very cold,' said the king, shuddering. 'Good sooth, but I were loath to be a prisoner!' He turned and left the room hastily. The marquis rejoined him on the stair, and led him, two stories higher, to the armoury, now empty compared to its former condition, but still capable of affording some supply. The next space above was filled with stores, and the highest was now kept clear for defence, for the reservoir so fully occupied the top that there was no room for engines of any sort; and indeed it took up so much of the storey below with its depth that it left only such room as between the decks of a man of war, rendering it hardly fit for any other use. Reaching the summit at length, the king gazed with silent wonder at the little tarn which lay there as on the crest of a mountain. But the marquis conducted him to the western side, and, pointing with his finger, said-- 'Sir, you see that line of trees, stretching across a neck of arable field, where to the right the brook catches the sun?' 'I see it, my lord,' answered the king. 'And behind it a house and garden, small but dainty?' 'Yes, my lord.' 'Then I trust your majesty will release me from suspicion of being of those to whom the prophet Isaias saith, "Vae qui conjungitis domum ad domum, et agrum agro copulatis usque ad terminum loci: numquid habitabitis vos soli in medio terrae?" May it please your majesty, I planted those trees to hoodwink mine eyes from such temptations, hiding from them the vineyard of Naboth, lest they should act the Jezebel and tempt me to play the Ahab thereto. If I did thus when those trees and I were young, shall I do worse now that I stand with one foot in the grave, and purgatory itself in the other?' The king seemed to listen politely, but only listened half and did not perceive his drift. He was looking at Dorothy where she stood at the opposite side of the reservoir, unable, because of the temporary obstruction occasioned by certain alterations and repairs about the cocks now going on, to reach the stair without passing the king and the marquis. The king asked who she was; and the marquis, telling him a little about her, called her. She came, courtesied low to his majesty, and stood with beating heart. 'I desire,' said the marquis, 'thou shouldst explain to his majesty that trick of thy cousin Glamorgan, the water-shoot, and let him see it work.' 'My lord,' answered Dorothy, trembling betwixt devotion and doubtful duty, 'it was the great desire of my lord Glamorgan that none in the castle should know the trick, as it pleases your lordship to call it.' 'What, cousin! cannot his majesty keep a secret? And doth not all that Glamorgan hath belong to the king?' 'God forbid I should doubt either, my lord,' answered Dorothy, turning very pale, and ready to sink, 'but it cannot well be done in the broad day without some one seeing. At night, indeed--' 'Tut, tut! it is but a whim of Glamorgan's. Thou wilt not do a jot of ill to show the game before his majesty in the sunlight.' 'My lord, I promised.' 'Here standeth who will absolve thee, child! His majesty is paramount to Glamorgan.' 'My lord! my lord!' said Dorothy almost weeping, 'I am bewildered, and cannot well understand. But I am sure that if it be wrong, no one can give me leave to do it, or absolve me beforehand. God himself can but pardon after the thing is done, not give permission to do it. Forgive me, sir, but so master Matthew Herbert hath taught me.' 'And very good doctrine, too,' said the marquis emphatically, 'let who will propound it. Think you not so, sir?' But the king stood with dull imperturbable gaze fixed on the distant horizon, and made no reply. An awkward silence followed. The king requested his host to conduct him to his apartment. 'I marvel, my lord,' said his majesty as they went down the stair, seeing how lame his host was, 'that, as they tell me, your lordship drinks claret. All physicians say it is naught for the gout.' 'Sir,' returned the marquis, 'it shall never be said that I forsook my friend to pleasure my enemy.' The king's face grew dark, for ever since the lecture for which he had made Gower the textbook, he had been ready to see a double meaning of rebuke in all the marquis said. He made no answer, avoided his attendants who waited for him in the fountain court, expecting him to go by the bell-tower, and, passing through the hall and the stone court, ascended to his room alone, and went into the picture-gallery, where he paced up and down till supper-time. The marquis rejoined the little company of his own friends who had left the bowling-green after him, and were now in the oak parlour. A little troubled at the king's carriage towards him, he entered with a merrier bearing than usual. 'Well, gentlemen, how goes the bias?' he said gayly. 'We were but now presuming to say, my lord,' answered Mr. Prichard, 'that there are who would largely warrant that if you would you might be duke of Somerset.' 'When I was earl of Worcester,' returned the marquis, 'I was well to do; since I was marquis, I am worse by a hundred thousand pounds; and if I should be a duke, I should be an arrant beggar. Wherefore I had rather go back to my earldom, than at this rate keep on my pace to the dukedom of Somerset.'