Alfred John Church.

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a Roundhead."

"Nay, father," said I, finding my tongue at last, "I cannot conceive
that I should be found different from you in this matter."

Then he laughed and said: "Your schooling has not made your wits as
nimble as might have been looked for. Dost not see how the matter
stands? If the King prevail, no harm shall befall Upcott, for is not
Geoffrey loyal? nor any if the Parliament get the better, seeing that
Master Holmes himself hath ever been zealous for it. And for Sir
William, 'tis but the same story told the other way. Master Tresham
goes in the new ways, but the good knight his father loves the old;
and it cannot but be that the one or the other is in the right. What
say you? I am too old to change, and the world would wonder if, when I
have fought for his Majesty's house, I should now turn against him;
but you have been brought up among the citizens, with whom he is, I am
told, in but small favour. Shall we make a Master Doubleface between
us, and make the inheritance sure whatever may befall?"

What I should have said I know not, for though the matter of his
speech was utterly strange to me, he showed no token but of being
utterly serious; but I must have showed some distemper in my face, for
before I could answer, he broke in upon me:

"Nay, son Philip, answer not. 'Tis enough. I did ill to jest on such a
matter, which is indeed too serious for any words but those of
soberness. Come, let us take counsel together. To live here is a thing
past all enduring, at least for any man that cares not to run with the
hare and hunt with the hounds. An I could welcome the Parliament's men
one day and the King's men the next, I might make a good profit out of
both, and so fare well. But such is not to my taste. My purpose then
is to put my sword to the grindstone again, and to take service with
the King. I am not what I was, but I am not too old to strike a blow
for the good cause. The farm I shall leave to John Vickers. 'Tis an
honest man enough, but he cares not, I do believe in my heart, one
groat for King or Parliament, so that he gets in the hay and corn
without damage of blight or hindrance of weather. I have made a
covenant with him, not in writing, but by word of mouth - for be he not
honest, as indeed I do trust he is, writing will not bind him more
than speech - that he shall pay so much by the year, according as the
price of corn shall be. 'Twill be, as I reckon, about eighty pounds;
of this I shall keep twenty for my own use, so that I shall not need
to trouble the King's chest, which has, I take it, enough, and more
than enough, to do. Your mother's portion is in the hands of Nicholas
Barratt, a maltster of Reading, who pays six pounds per centum, making
thirty pounds by the year in all. And this, with the residue of that
which comes from John Vickers she must make suffice for herself and
your sister Dorothy and you. And now for yourself."

At that I brake in: "That matter is soon sped. My place is nowhere but
with my father."

"Nay," said he, "you have forgotten half the commandment, which runs:
'Honour thy father _and thy mother_.' Thy mother and sister must
needs dwell in Oxford, and I should not be content to leave them there
without some man of their kindred to take their part. I doubt neither
the loyalty nor the courage of those that serve his Majesty, but there
are not a few among them that are somewhat loose of life, which is,
indeed, but too common a fault of soldiers. You will soon see for
yourself that a fair maid, such as is your sister Dorothy, could
scarce stir abroad had she not you to bear her company, nor would I
have you at your age in a camp; 'tis not a place for a lad, as you
still are, for all your inches and broad shoulders. 'Tis the time for
learning and fitting yourself for your work in life; for these wars
will come to an end some day, though I doubt not that they will last
so long that this realm shall be almost brought to ruin. And what
would you do, being left at two or three and twenty years of age,
having learnt nothing and forgotten much, and 'all thy occupation
gone,' as Will Shakespeare hath it?"

It matters not what I said in answer to this. I did not yield at once,
but debated the matter for awhile, being thus disappointed of my hope.
But 'twas all to no purpose, for my father was resolute, and I could
not but acknowledge in my heart that he had the right.

The next day, therefore, my mother and sister having for some time
past bestirred themselves to get all things ready for removal, we left
our home and journeyed to Oxford, lodging for a time at the
_Maidenhead_, which is a tavern opposite to Lincoln College, till
we could find a convenient dwelling in the town. This was no easy
matter, for Oxford was full, it may be said to overflowing, with
courtiers and soldiers. But at last, by the kindness of Mistress Wood,
widow of Thomas Wood, that had died the year before, having been
always a good friend to my father, we found a little house not far
from Merton College. 'Twas but a poor place, having only two chambers
with one parlour and a kitchen, with no garden but a little yard only
(a thing which troubled the women folk much, not only because it
stinted them of air and exercise, the streets being scarce fit for
them to walk in, but because they were constrained to buy such trifles
as parsley and mint, and everything, though but the veriest trifle,
that was needed for the household). Yet we were right glad to find
even this shelter, having almost begun to despair; and, indeed, we
scarce suffered the former occupiers, the widow and daughter of a
King's officer, newly slain in the wars, to depart before we filled
their places, so fearful were we lest someone else should be
beforehand with us. Nor indeed, for very shame, could we complain,
seeing that Mistress Wood lived in a house that was scarce better than
ours, her own having been given up to my Lord Colepepper, Master of
the Rolls. Nor was it a slight matter that this narrow dwelling suited
our shallow purse, for shallow it was when money was so scarce and all
articles of provision so dear as we found them to be in Oxford. And
here let me say that neither did Master Barratt fail to pay interest
on my mother's fortune, nor John Vickers his yearly rent, most
scrupulously calculated according to the current price of corn. The
worthy man also did send my mother many gifts of fruit and butter, and
fowls and game in its season, so that although we had no superfluity,
we never lacked, but could give to many that needed. Of these, indeed,
there was no small number in Oxford, some of them being persons of
good estate, that, having less honest tenants than John Vickers, could
get no return of rent from their lands.

Me my father entered at Lincoln College, with the Rector of which, Dr.
Paul Hood, he had a friendship (or I should rather say an
acquaintance) of old standing. By good fortune it happened that the
place of one of the four Trappes scholars fell empty beyond
expectation, the scholar having taken service with the King and being
killed in battle. The news came on the very day of my entering, and as
I had gained some credit by answering, and much praise from them that
examined me, and no one else desired the place, the vacancy being, as
I have said, without expectation, I was chosen to it by a unanimous
voice. 'Twas no great matter, fifty-two shillings by the year only;
but 'twas, nevertheless, a welcome promotion.




CHAPTER V.

OF THINGS AT OXFORD.


'Twas a stirring time at Oxford when I first began my residence in the
University. The King had there his headquarters, and there was scarce
a day but messengers came bearing news, good or bad, of the war that
was being carried forward in every part of England. Also a Parliament
sat - I speak now of the first year of my residence, that is to say
from October, 1643, to the same month of the year following - at which
were present some hundred and fifty, reckoning both Commoners and
Peers. But of these matters I shall say more hereafter; at the present
I will speak rather of things concerning my own College.

Lincoln College is a fair building, of an honourable antiquity, there
being six Colleges only that are older than it and ten that are of
newer date, but it has only a poor estate, its first founder having
died before he could fulfil his purpose, and other benefactors, for
such have not been wanting to us, not wholly making good his unwilling
defect. Its chief ornament is the chapel, which is in the Gothic style
(a style, in my judgment, much to be preferred to the Italian novelty
which many in these days prefer), fairly lined with cedar, and
illustrated with windows most handsomely painted. These windows were
brought from Italy at the instance of the builder, Dr. Williams,
sometime Bishop of Lincoln and Lord Keeper, whose liberality in this
matter is the more to be commended because he is not even of this
University, but visitor only of the College in right of his bishopric.
My chamber was under the roof at the top of the chapel staircase, and
had a fair prospect of the church of All Saints, which, in a sort,
belongs to the College, and of that part of the town which lies toward
the river.

On the first day of November, being All Saints' Day, we - that is to
say, all the members of the College then residing, from the Rector to
the Clerks - walked in solemn procession to this church, where prayers
were said, and a sermon preached by Master Richard Chalfont, the
Sub-Rector, the Rector, to whom the duty of this discourse more
properly belongs, pleading inability by reason of illness; but 'tis
thought that 'twas an excuse rather than a reason, and that, being a
prudent man, as was most abundantly proved by his keeping his
preferment through all the changes of the times, he chose rather to be
silent in so critical a juncture of affairs. We looked for a discourse
on political matters from Master Chalfont, who was very hot for the
King; but he preached on no such subject, but on the pleasures which
shall be enjoyed in heaven. Some thought the theme ill-chosen, but
others, to whose opinion I incline, greatly commended this choice,
saying that of politics we hear enough, and more than enough, in the
market-place, and that higher things are more befitting the sanctuary.
'Twas a most academical discourse. I remember he told us that we
should there, among other good things, find repaired all damages that
time or accident has made in the remains of antiquity, reading, for
example, the comedies of Eupolis, a contemporary, but elder, of
Aristophanes, which have been most lamentably lost, and such books of
Livy and Tacitus as are wanting to the manuscripts, and solving also
problems of geometry and algebra which are beyond our present skill. I
thought that many of the auditors listened to these prognostications
with blank faces, as thinking, doubtless, that they had here upon
earth more than a sufficiency of such things.

The day was kept as a high day in the College, provision beyond the
ordinary being made both for dinner and supper in the hall. There was
no lack of jollity, though I heard some complain, in a doubtful
manner, of the change which had been wrought since the last Gaudy (for
such is the name, being short for _gaudeamus_, which they give to
this festivity) was held. Then there had been a goodly show of plate,
none drinking save out of silver; but this was now all gone, being
melted down for the pay of his Majesty's soldiers, and our cups were
of earthenware.

On Shrove Tuesday, which, in the year 1644 (to which I am now come),
fell on the second day of March, there was held what, if I may borrow
a word from a venerable custom of antiquity, may be styled the
initiation of the Freshmen. The fire in the hall was made earlier than
ordinary; the Fellows also went to supper before six, and made an end
sooner than at other times, so leaving the hall to the liberty of the
undergraduates, but not without an admonitory hint given by the
Sub-Rector, as having charge of the discipline of the College that all
things should be carried on in good order. While they were at supper
in the hall, the cook was making hot caudle at the charge of the
Freshmen, who, I should have said, are all that have come into the
University since the Shrove Tuesday last before. (Caudle, I should
say, for the sake of those that are not learned in such matters, is a
drink made of oatmeal flour, mixed in water, with sherry wine.) This
being ready, and all the undergraduates and servants being assembled
in the hall, each Freshman, in his turn, according to his seniority,
was constrained to make a speech, but not without preparation, for
notice was given that it would be required of him on Candlemas Day.
First, he plucked off his gown and bands, and made himself look as
like a low fellow as he could; some, I must needs confess, acquitting
themselves in this respect with much success. This done, he made his
speech, being placed on a form, which was set on the high table,
touching with such wit as he was master of on the persons and
characters of his brother Freshmen and on the servants of the College,
the latter more especially, being a game at which the very feeblest
hawks could fly. If he did well, speaking in an audible voice, and
with a good fluency of words and passable matter, there was given him
a cup of caudle, and no salted drink; if he did indifferently, neither
ill nor well, some caudle and some salted drink; but if he was dull,
or halted in his speech, then he had nothing but salted drink; that is
to say, beer, with salt therein, and tucks[1] to boot. This done, the
senior cook administered to him an oath, which began thus: "Item tu
jurabis, quod _penniless bench_ non visitabis," but the rest I forget.
As for "penniless bench," 'tis a seat by St. Martin's Church (which is
called also Carfax), where the hucksters and butter-women sit. This
oath each Freshman took over an old shoe, which when he had kissed
with due solemnity, he put on again his gown and bands, and was duly
admitted into the worshipful company of seniors. This was doubtless
but foolish work, though I doubt me much whether now, when we are so
far wiser that all such festivities are forbidden, we be much better.
I trust, at the least, that none will think the worse of me if I boast
that I did my fooling so graciously that the cup that was given to me
was of caudle only, and no admixture of salt.

[1] A "tuck" was a pinch, given with finger and thumb under
the lip, and sometimes drawing blood.

Such sportiveness is to be looked for in the young; and, indeed, did
their gay temper and light heart lead them no further than into such
diversions, there were small cause for blame; it may be alleged also,
there was something academical, though turned to purposes of mirth, in
these our enforced disputings. So much may not be said of all the
sports to which the younger sort were addicted. Some were given to the
fighting of cocks, a barbarous thing in my judgment, though long
custom has appropriated it to the last day before Lent, so that some
would think the world itself shaken in its foundations were this
absent; but, be it good or bad, 'twill be acknowledged that 'tis not a
seemly thing for the quadrangle of a College, where I have seen it
practised, and that not once or twice only. The baiting of badgers
also with terrier dogs was much followed. As for hunting the fox, it
was interrupted by the war; for who could follow the chase when he was
like to find the King's men in one village and the Parliament's
soldiers in the next? So the war brought peace, I may say, to the
foxes; but the hares and partridges had little rest, for the disturbed
times gave excuse to many for carrying fire-arms, which they could
use, as occasion served, for their own purposes. But who could know
whether a musket were loaded with a bullet that might kill a man, or
with small shot that might bring down a beast or a bird? And if 'twas
a bullet that it bore, what was to hinder it being used against a fat
hart or a roebuck? The keepers of game had, I take it, an ill time in
these days; indeed, their occupation was in many places wholly given
up. And if such abuses have commonly been found among the scholars of
the University, now they prevailed tenfold more. But of this more in
its proper place.

But what shall be said of the seniors, the Masters of Arts. Before I
came to Oxford I had thought, in my simplicity, that these were all
grave and reverend persons, given to books and study, that, as our new
poet, Master John Milton, has it, did "out watch the Bear;" but I soon
learnt to think otherwise; and here I will take leave to tell a true
tale, from which may be seen how some of these reverend seniors did
demean themselves. But that there were grave and pious men even in the
worst times I shall not deny.

There was in the College a certain Master of Arts, by name Thomas
Smith, a violent person, who had been admonished and punished for
diverse offences and disorders, of which it was counted not the least
heinous that he kept dogs in his chamber, and would neither remove
them nor himself when warned by the Rector so to do. Master Smith had
a quarrel, in which private enmity was doubtless aggravated by public
differences, with another Master of Arts, also dwelling in the
College, by name Nicholas North, and a minister. They had had diverse
fallings out in time past, but the gravest of all, by reason of which
Master Smith came near to being expelled from the College (and
doubtless had been so but for the favour of some Fellows that were of
his way of thinking in matters of Church and State), was this. It will
be best told in their own words, as I afterwards found it written
down; and first for Master North's account:

"On Monday night, immediately after I had supped in the buttery, going
in the new quadrangle, I heard a door shut, and thinking it had been
mine, said to him that came forth, 'Who is there?' Master Smith
answered, 'Who are you that examine me?' I replied, 'I do not examine
you.' He said, 'You are a base rogue for examining me.' When I heard
him say so, fearing he would fall upon me, I hasted with all the speed
I could to my chamber; but, as I opened the door, Master Smith caught
hold of my gown and said, 'Sirrah! Come out; you are a base rogue for
examining me!' Said I, 'You cannot prove me such. I pray you let me
go; I have nought to say to you.' 'Ay,' said he, 'but I have something
to say to you;' and taking me by the ear and hair of the head with one
hand, he plucked out a cudgel that was under his gown, and making into
the chamber upon me, struck me with the cudgel upon the head. About
the third blow it broke in two. After that he struck me half-a-dozen
blows with that piece he had in his hand, and when I wrested this out
of his hand he laid me about the face with his fist. There being two
in my chamber, I asked them whether they were not ashamed to see me
beaten in my own chamber, and would not call company to take him off.
After a while came Master Chalfont[2] running in and took him off from
me, and three several times did Master Smith call me 'base rogue' and
run in upon me, and was taken off three times by Master Chalfont; and
when I entreated him to go out of my chamber he called me a base,
inferior rogue, and would not go out till he had every piece of his
stick."

[2] This Richard Chalfont was expelled in the year 1648. He
was minister to the company of English Merchants in
Rotterdam.

Now for Master Smith's story:

"Coming out of my chamber on Monday night, about seven of the clock, I
met Master North coming forth from his chamber. He said, 'What are
you, sir?' I answered, 'What is that to you?' He drew me to his
chamber door. I asked him why he used me so. He said that I had taken
something out of his chamber. I told him that he was an unworthy man,
and I would make him know himself; and Master North being within his
chamber, dared me to fall on him, saying 'Strike me if thou durst!'
Then I perceived a bed-staff in his gown sleeve, he holding the little
end in his hand and the great end downwards. Thereupon, having a stick
in my hand, I struck at him, and hitting him on the top of the head,
broke the stick in pieces."

Here Master Smith was questioned how he came to have a stick, which it
is against rule and custom to carry. He said, "I was newly come out of
town from the company of some friends, and by the way was jostled from
the walk by two scholars, and having shortly to return, not knowing
whether I might be abused again, took the stick under my gown."

Further, in answer to Master North, he said, "I do not absolutely know
whether I did after strike him in his chamber, but might have so done,
partly by heat of passion and ill-language that was given me, and
partly defending myself."

There was no small discussion about this matter, but in the end Master
Smith was commanded to pay ten pounds to Master North for the wrong
done to him (of which sum Master North was persuaded to abate a third
part), and to make a public submission and acknowledgment in the
chapel in the face of all the society assembled. And these two things
he did.

Such were the manners of the time, and afterwards, as will be seen,
they grew worse rather than better.




CHAPTER VI.

OF THE KING'S GOING TO WORCESTER.


My father was well remembered by some of the older sort about the
King's person, as also by the Prince Rupert, elder son of the Princess
Elizabeth, and so nephew to the King, who, when he was a child, had
greatly favoured him. Hence, without any delay, he obtained the
commission of a captain of horse. Indeed, being a man of capacity and
of some experience in military matters, while most of the King's
officers were wholly raw and uninstructed in the art of war, he had
more weight in council than of right belonged to his rank; nor do I
doubt but that, had it not pleased God to order things otherwise, he
would have been promoted to a principal command. Indeed he had, very
soon after his first joining the army, the chief direction of his
regiment, the colonel being a young gentleman of quality, that had
none of the virtues belonging to a soldier save courage only, unless
it is to be counted as a virtue that he knew his own ignorance, and
gave a ready ear to the counsel of wiser men.

For myself, I gave my attention to things academical, and was a
diligent student, exercising an industry which, I make bold to say,
few others in the University excelled. This, it must be confessed, was
not altogether of my own free choice; but my father would have it so.
"Stick to your books," he would say, "son Philip, so long as you can.
Thus for the present time you will serve your cause most effectually.
If the need come for your hand, I shall not spare to call you; but
remember that it is easier to take up the sword than to lay it down."
Nevertheless, with my father's consent; that I might be ready for such
occasion when soever it might come, I learnt my exercises, both as a
foot-soldier and a trooper. (I had learnt to ride while yet a child,
perfecting myself in the art during my long compelled absence from
school in the time of the plague.) I had, through the bounty of my
father, arms of my own, namely, a steel cap, a back and breast-piece
and a pike, with the other appurtenances. We trained commonly in the
quadrangle of New College, the warden whereof, Dr. Robert Pink, deputy
vice-chancellor, was a zealous King's man. There was a school kept in
the cloisters of New College, wherein were taught first the singing
boys of the chapel (with which scarce any other in England can be
compared), and also other youth of the town. And I remember what ado
the ushers had with the lads on the training days. There was no
holding them in their school on these occasions; neither tasks nor the
terror of the lash could hinder them from seeing and following the
soldiers.

As this year (1644) went on, it was more and more manifest that the
King was in a great strait. My father would have it that he was ill
served by his advisers, especially in their continual changing of
their plans, which, when they had settled them after long and painful
debate, they would often unsettle without sufficient cause. I have,
indeed, heard him say, "If his Majesty would but trust his own
judgment, which is indeed better than can be found in many of them
that pretend to be his advisers, and having once come by a resolution
would carry it out determinately, 'twould be well for him and for his


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Online LibraryAlfred John ChurchWith the King at Oxford → online text (page 3 of 14)