not a man near us who does not feel it necessary,
nor a woman who does not praise it as virtuous,
nor a child who is not trained up in the love and
practice of it. This is the morality which one
institution teaches from village to village all
along our shores, ā mocking the clergyman, set-
ting at nought the schoolmaster, and raising up
a host of enemies to the government by which it
is maintained ; and all for what ?"
" To help us in our national money matters,
in which, in truth, it does not very well succeed,"
observed the Lieutenant.
" And to protect the interests of certain classes
of its subjects," replied Matilda, " in which, if
most people say true, they succeed as little."
" Spitalfields is in a worse state than ever,"
observed the Lieutenant ; " and there are ter-
MORNING WALKS. 89
rible complaints from our glovers and our lace-
" And if not," continued Matilda ā " if pro-
tection availed to these people, the case would be
very little better than it is now. Money pros-
perity is desirable only as it is necessary to some
higher good, ā to good morals and happiness ;
and if it were, in fact, secured to our glovers,
and silkmen, and lace-makers, it would be pur-
chased far too dear at the expense of the morals
of such a multitude as are corrupted by our
restrictive laws. There can be nothing in the
nature of things to make the vexation and demo-
ralization of some thousands necessary to the
prosperity of other thousands. Providence can-
not have appointed to governments such a choice
of evils as this ; and "
" And you, my dear, for your share, will there-
fore withhold vour allegiance from a government
which attempts to institute such an opposition."
" It is rather too late an age of the world fur
me to turn rebel on that ground," replied Matilda.
smiling. " Such governments as we were speak-
ing of are dead and gone, long ago. Our go-
vernment is not granting any new protections or
prohibitions, surely !"
" But I thought you would quarrel with it for
not taking away those which exist. I thought
you would give it your best blessing if they sent
an order to all us Preventive people to vacate our
station-houses and march off."
" I certainly felt more disaffected to-day than
ever in mv life before," observed Matilda. " To
90 MORNING WALKS.
think that, in a country like this, anybody may
be stopped and searched upon mere suspicion ! "
" With the privilege of demanding the decision
of a magistrate, remember."
11 Which magistrate may order the search, if
he finds sufficient ground of suspicion. And this
outrage is to take place as a very small part of
the machinery for protecting the interests of cer-
tain classes, to the great injury of all the rest ;
and especially, as many of themselves say, to
their own. It makes one indignant to think of it."
" It is the law, my love ; and while it exists, it
must be obeyed. I must order my men to stop
you, if you should chance to sympathize in Eli-
zabeth's tastes. Hey, Matilda?"
" Do, by all means, when you find me smug-
gling ; but perhaps my share of the temptation
may soon be at an end. I trust all this distress
that you speak of will end in bringing into an
active competition with foreigners those of our
people who are now sitting with their hands
before them, perceiving how the gentry of Eng-
land are apparelled in smuggled goods. No fear
for our occupation, you know. There will still
be brandy and tobacco, on which, as we do not
grow them ourselves, government will call for so
high a duty as will encourage smuggling. No
prospect of your being useless yet a while."
" Nor of our neighbours being as loyal as you
would have them."
" Nor of their living at peace, and in frank
" Nor of Pirn's making his scholars moral.''
MORNING WALKS. 91
11 Nor of our manufacturers having fair play."
" Nor of the same justice being done to the
revenue. Aias ! how far we are from perfection ! "
" Yet ever tending towards it. Unless we be-
lieve this, what do we mean by believing in a
Providence ? since all evidence goes to prove
that its rule is infinite progression. Yes, we are
tending upwards, though slowly ; and we shall
find, when we arrive in sight of comparative per-
fection, that a system of restriction which debases
and otherwise injures all parties concerned, is
perfectly inconsistent with pood government."
" Then shall I have earned my dinner in some
other, and, I trust, a pleasanter, way than to-
day," observed the Lieutenant. " I shall never
get reconciled to my office, Matilda, especially
while I hear of brother officers abroad "
M Oh ! you are dreading your patrol to-nii:ht,
because it is beginning to snow," said Matilda,
smiling. " You shall go in, and fortify yourself
with some duty-paid brandy and untaxed water j
and then, if you will let me go with you again,
we will defy the smugglers as manfully as if they
were to be the enemies of good order for ever-
M You shall not go out in the dark again, my
love. It took all my manfulness from me to see
you so near the edge of the cliff in a wind which
might drive you out as if you were a sea-gull.
The place looks scarcely fit for you on the
brightest of days ; you have no chance out of
doors on a gusty night."
A NIGHT WATCH.
The night of the gipsy late-wake was one of the
clearest and coldest moonlight. Such a night,' ā
when the smallest skiff showed black on the clis-
tening sea, and every sailing bird cast its shadow
on the chalky cliff, and each stationary figure on
the heights exhibited a hard outline against the
sky, ā was little fit for smuggling adventure ; yet
the officers of the Coast Guard had a strong im-
pression that a landing of contraband goods was
to be attempted, in defiance of the lady moon,
and of the watchers who " blessed her useful
light." A gipsy festival afforded an excellent
pretence for collecting the country people in suf-
ficient force to brave the guard ; and it was sus-
pected that the people themselves thought so, as
tidings of the festival were most industriously
spread through all the country, and certainly
very eagerly received. Lieutenant Storey held
consultations with his brother officers at all the
stations near ; and every precaution was taken to
enable a great force to assemble with speed at
the points where it seemed pretty certain that a
landing would be attempted. One or two trusty
men were sent to overlook the wake from a
height, that they might report the numbers and
apparent disposition of the people ; and Lieu-
tenant Storey visited these men on their posts
soon after the beginning of the ceremony.
A NIGHT WATCH. 93
M Well! what news ?" said Matilda, anxiously,
as the Lieutenant entered the room where his
wife, mother, and sister were waiting supper for
" Why, it is a fine freezing night," he replied,
rubbing his hands, and accepting the seat which
was offered him close by the blazing fire. M So
you have Elizabeth to keep you company, as I
advised you. That is very well, as I rather think
you will not be persuaded to go to bed till late.
And you, too, mother ! Who would have thought
of your climbing up to us so late in the day .'"
u But the gipsies!" cried the ladies. " Did
you see the wake .'"
" I heard more than I saw of it ; for the banks
are so high that one could only catch a glimpse
of a few heads now and then. But there was a
strong glare from their torches, there being little
moonlight, I suppose, in the hollow way : and
their noise is really inconceivable. Such yelling
and howling, and what I suppose they call sing-
ing ! They will wake up all the sheep in the pens
for a mile round."
" I am afraid there are a great many collected,"
" I should think there must be, for I never
heard any gabble or din to compare with it, ex-
cept when the wind and the sails are wrangling
in a storm at sea. But come, let us have supper.
I must be gone again presently ; and this is not
an air to take away one's appetite."
His mother inquired whether they could learn
anything of the progress of events by looking
94 A NIGHT WATCH.
out of the windows, or whether they must wait
for news till his return. He replied,
" You will see nothing by going to the window
but as fine a moonlight sea as ever you saw ; and
the light-house, and perhaps poor Nicholas staring
about him, as he is bound to do. If there is any
affray, it will be far out of your sight. We keep
our eyes upon Birling and Crowlink Gap. Either
of them is an easy place of rendezvous from the
wake. You will be as still as death here, and I
advise you all to go to sleep till I knock you up
to let me in."
The mother and sister wondered what he
thought they could be made of to go to bed at
such a time. Matilda piled fresh logs on the fire,
and looked to see that the lamp was trimmed.
" I'll tell you what, ā I'll desire Nicholas to
come, from time to time, to tell you whether he
hears or sees anything or nothing," said the Lieu-
tenant. " I have put him on the nearest beat,
where I am pretty sure of his having nothing to
do ; and he can just step to the gate, if you like to
be at the trouble of hearing that he has nothing
" Do be less presumptuous, my dear son," said
Mrs. Storey. " How dare you make sure of no-
thing happening ?"
" It Avas only a hasty word, mother. I have
not been presumptuous in reality, as you would
say if you saw how completely we are prepared.
More ale, if you please, Elizabeth. And now, I
must not stay any longer. I shall be sure to tell
Nicholas : but you will not detain him from his
A NIGHT WATCH. 95
Matilda ran out before him to have his parting
kiss at the gate, and to watch him out of sight.
The full light from the beacon turned at the
moment upon her face, stronger than the moon-
light, and showed that tears were upon her cheek.
" I cannot scold you, love," said her husband,
as he wiped them away. " I do pity you women
that have to sit waiting at home when anything
is to happen. I could fancy myself crying like
a baby if I were obliged to do so. But go in
now, there's a good girl."
M The moment you are out of sight. I sup-
pose you really cannot tell, ā you cannot even
tell me, ā when you are likely to be home again."
" Impossible. It may be two hours, or it may
Matilda had only to pray that it might be two,
while she watched her husband on his way to
Nicholas's beat, where he stopped to speak with
the figure perched upon the brow of the cliff.
Presently the figure might be seen to touch its
hat ; the Lieutenant waved his hand towards the
station-house, and speedily disappeared, leaving
Matilda to re-enter the parlour, whose clear fire,
double windows, and listed doors she would wil-
lingly have exchanged for the biting air on Hot-
combe Flat, by her husband's side.
During the hour which elapsed before Nicholas
lifted the latch of the gate, whose welcome slick
brought all the ladies to the door, Matilda had
wished twenty times that she was alone. Eliza-
beth was full of groundless fears of her own de-
vising, while she ridiculed those of other people ;
96 A NIGHT WATCH.
and Mrs. Storey gave a lecture on patience every
time Matilda moved on her chair, looking up in
her face with all possible anxiety, however, at
each return from an excursion to the upper win-
dows. The methodical Nicholas was more tire-
some still. He began with an explanation of
what his orders were about giving intelligence to
the ladies, and of his purpose in now appearing
before them. He proceeded with an account of
where he had stood, and how he had looked round
and listened, and what he had been thinking
about; and it was only at the last that it came
out that he had seen and heard nothing: particular.
" And do you think you could hear a pistol-
shot from Birling Gap, or from so far as Crow-
link Gap ? "
Nicholas could not answer for it, having never
heard a pistol fired from either place while on
duty on his present beat ; but he soon recollected
that his officer had told him that it was a very
calm night, and that he could certainlv be able
to hear the sound in question from the farthest of
the Seven Sisters ; and therefore Nicholas fully
believed that he should hear a pistol as soon as
" Very well," said Matilda, venturing upon
such a breach of discipline as handing him a
glass of ale. " Now we will not detain you : we
were desired not ; but come again in an hour,
and sooner, if anything happens."
Nicholas's heart, which was always warm to-
wards the lady, was rarefied by the honours and
benefits of this night. To be appointed, in some
A NIGHT WATCH. 97
sort, her special servant, ā to be treated with kind
words from her lips, and with ale from her own
hands, ā was enough, in combination with the
ale itself, to raise his spirits to the highest pitch
of which, as a sober man, he was capable. He
could scarcely refrain from whistling as he went
back to his beat, and was actually guilty of hum-
ming " Rules Britannia," as he flung himself
down in a sort of niche on the very brow of the
dizzy cliff, whence he was wont to gaze abroad
over the expanse.
11 ' Rule, Britannia!' ā Ay, that lady is worth
a thousand of the bigger and smarter one, and
the old one too, if a poor man may think so. ā
4 Britannia rule the waves.' ā Hoy, hoy ! where
did this sloop come from, that 1 did not see her
before ? She's waiting for an early cargo of
chalk, I'll be bound ; but it is odd I did not see
her before, only that she lies so close under, one
could not see without looking over. ' And come
again in an hour,' says she, ' or sooner, if any-
thing happens.' I wonder how the hour goes.
ā ' Britons never shall be slaves ! ' ā If I had my
mother's old watch, now ! Bless her ! she's now-
asleep, I suppose, in the bed with the green
checked curtains. She says she thinks of me in
her prayers, and has all the sea before her as she
goes to sleep, and me marching above it, helping
to guard the nation. ā ' Britannia rule the waves ['
ā It is only a fair turn for me to think of her
when she is asleep, as I hope she is now. Lord !
how she used to beat me ! and all, as she says
now, for tenderness, to make a great man of me.
98 A NIGHT WATCH.
To be sure, I never guessed it at the time. ā
ā¢ Britons never shall be slaves ! Never ! never !'
I don't know that I had not best walk ; it is so
different sitting here from what it is when the sun
is out, platting straw for my hat. It is time I
had a new hat ; I thought I saw the lady glanc-
ing at it. Think of her taking notice of such
little things ! Kind heart ! * Come again within
the hour,' says she, ' and sooner, if anything
happens.' That's she looking out, I warrant,
where there is a little bit of lisrht from the win-
dow. There ! 'tis gone. 'Tis the will of Provi-
dence that she should notice me so. I wish she
knew how my mother thinks of me : but that is
no doing of mine, either ; it is the will of Provi-
dence too; and I doubt whether anybody is so
happy as, by the will of Providence, I am, with
my mother, and the people here all so harmless
to me, and the lady ! And it is something to see
such a bright sea as this, so like what I saw in
the show-box at Weyhill fair, when my mother
treated me, then a young boy. I am sure every-
body is wonderfully kind to me. I wonder how
the hour goes. It is bitter cold, to be sure ; and
I think yon bit of shelter is best, after all. ā
' Britons never, ne ver ' "
And Nicholas once more crouched in his
recess, where he rocked himself to the music of
the waves, and looked in vain over the wide ex-
panse for the smallest dark speck, in watching
which he might find occupation. He soon found
that his observation would have been better be-
stowed nearer home. While walking, he had
A NIGHT WATCH. 99
disdained the well-worn path along the chalk
line, strewed within a few feet of the verge for
the guidance of the watchers on dark nights. As
it was light enough for safety, he availed him-
self of the opportunity of varying his beat, and
trod the less bare path from the chalk line to the
very edge of the cliff. He had looked straight
before him, whether his back was turned north or
south, giving no attention to the right hand or
the left. He had also been too hasty in his con-
clusion that the vessel which lay below, in the
deep, broad shadow of the cliffs, was a chalk
sloop, waiting for the tide.
By leaning forwards a little, any one in Ni-
cholas's present seat could command a view of a
winding and perilous, almost perpendicular, track,
which ascended from the spot where the gipsies
had assisted at the last unloading of a smuggling
vessel. Something like rude steps occurred at
small intervals in this track ; but thev were so
imperfect, and it was so steep, that the assistance
of either ropes or mutual support was necessary
to those who would mount, with or without a load
on their shoulders. As the tide had till now been
too high to permit access to this spot by the
beach, it was one of the last in which Nicholas
could have expected to see foes. For want of
something to do, he picked two or three flints
out of a layer which was bedded in the chalk
within reach, and amused himself with sending
them down the steep, in order to watch what
course they would take. Leaning over, to follow
with his eye the vagaries of one of these, his ear
100 A NIGHT WATCH.
was struck by a bumping, dead sound, which
could not be caused by his flint. Looking a little
to the right, without drawing back, he perceived
something moving in the shadowy track. But
for the sound which had excited his suspicions,
he would have concluded that some cliff-raven or
sea-bird had been disturbed in its hole, and he
watched intently for a few r seconds to discover
whether this was not the case ; but it soon be-
came evident to his sharpened sight that there
was a line of men laboriously climbing the track,
each with his two small tubs braced upon his
shoulders. Whether they had a strong rope by
which each might help himself, or whether each
supported the one above him, could not be disco-
vered from the distance at which Nicholas sat ;
nor could he guess whether they were aware of
his being so near.
He started up, and stood in the broad moon-
light, fumbling for his pistol, which was not quite
so ready to his hand as it ought to have been. A
subdued cry spread up and down, from mouth to
mouth, among his foes, a large body of whom
appeared instantly on the ridge, from the hollow
where they had collected unobserved. One of
them cried, ā
" Hand over your pistol, lad, and sit down
quietly where you were, and we will do you no
To do anything but what his officer had de-
sired was, however, too confusing to Nicholas's
faculties to be borne. The order to fire as soon
as smugglers were perceived came upon his
A NIGHT WATCH. 101
mind, as if spoken at the moment in the Lieu-
tenant's own voice, and saved him the trouble of
all internal conflict. He fired, and was instantly
fired upon in turn, and wounded. As he stag-
gered far enough back from the verge to fall on
safe ground, he had the consolation of hearing
(after the cloud of flapping sea-birds had taken
themselves far out to sea) a repetition of shots
along the cliffs on either hand, fainter and
shorter in the increasing distance. The ominous
roll of the drum, ā the most warlike signal of the
smugglers, ā was next heard from the hollow
to the right, and more sea-birds fluttered and
screamed. Silence was gone ; the alarm was
given ; and poor Nicholas need not resist the
welcome faintness that stretched him on the ;jia-s.
The smugglers, annoyed by former repeated
failures in their attempts to intimidate or gain
over the Preventive watch, were now exasperated
by Nicholas's unflinching discharge of his duty ;
and they determined to make an example of him,
even in the midst of their preparations to resist
the force which they knew to be on the way to
attack them. The first necessary precaution was
to range the batmen who had been collected by
the sound of the drum, in two rows, from the
vessel to the foot of the cliff, and again from the
verge of the cliffs to where the carts were sta-
tioned, surrounded with guards. This being
done, their pieces loaded, and their bludgeons
shouldered, a small party was detached to take
possession of the w r ounded man. On raising him,
it was found that he was not dead, and that it
102 A NIGHT WATCH.
was by no means certain that his wounds were
mortal. When he recovered his senses, he felt
himself lifted from the ground by a rope tied
round his middle, and immediately after was being
lowered over the edge of the precipice, carefully
protected from being dashed against the face of
the cliff by the men who stood at regular dis-
tances down the track, and who handed him from
one to the other till he reached the bottom, where
two stout men received him, and supported him
on either side to a little distance along the
" What are you going to do with me?" he
faintly asked ; but they made no answer.
" For God's sake spare my life ! "
" Too late for that, lad," replied one.
" No, not too late," said Nicholas, with re-
newed hope. " I don't think you have killed me.
I shall get well, if you will let me go."
" Too late, lad. You should not have fired."
" You are going to murder me then," groaned
the victim, sinking down upon a large stone
where he had often leaned before, it being the
one from which he was wont to look out to sea.
" I did not expect it of you, for your people have
always behaved very well to me. Everybody
lias been kind to me," he continued, his dying
thoughts getting into the train which the spot
suggested. " But, if you will do me one more
kindness, do, some of you, tell the lady at the
station why I could not come as she bade me.
4 Come within the hour,' says she "
He stopped short on hearing two pistols cocked
A NIGHT WATCH. 103
successively. No duty to be done under orders
being immediately present to his mind, a paroxysm
of terror seized him. He implored mercy for his
mother's sake, and, with the words upon his lips,
sank dead before the balls were lodged in his
body as in a mark.
The proceeding was witnessed by some of his
comrades, and by his officer, from the top of the
cliff; and fierce were the cries and numerous
were the shots which followed the murderous
party, as they quickly took up the body, and fell
back among the crowd of smugglers within the
deep shadow where they could no longer be dis-
The party being three hundred strong, any
resistance which the Preventive Force could offer
was of little avail to check their proceedings, as
long as they were disposed to carry them on.
They persevered for some time in landing, hoist-
ing up, and carting away their tubs, the batmen
keeping line, and frequently firing, while the car-
riers passed between with their burdens. At
length, a shot from one of the guard, which took
more effect than was expected, seemed to occa-
sion some change in their plans. They drew in
their apparatus, ascended the track in order,
bearing with them the bodies of their slain or
wounded companions, and formed round the
carts, in order to proceed up the country, desert-
ing a portion of the cargo which was left upon
the shore. The vessel, meanwhile, hoisted sail,
and wore round to stand out to sea.
" Can you see how many are killed or dis-
104 A NIGHT WATCH.
abled?" inquired the Lieutenant of one of his
men. " What is this they are hauling along ?"
"Two bodies, sir; whether dead or not, I
" Not poor Nicholas's for one, I suppose."
" No, sir ; they have both their faces blacked,
" We must get Christian burial for Nicholas,
if it be too late to save him," said the Lieutenant
to his men, who were boiling with rage at the
fate of their comrade.
" They have pitched him into the sea, no
doubt, sir, unless they have happened to leave
him on the beach as a mockery."
The procession passed with their load, like a
funeral train ; and to stop them would only have
occasioned the loss of more lives. There were
no stragglers to be cut off, for they kept their
corps as compact as if they had been drilled into
the service, and practised in an enemy's country.
It was, in fact, so. They had been trained to
regular defiance of laws which they had never
heard spoken of but in terms of hatred ; and